Best quality speakers for it's size - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 153 Old 09-09-2013, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I'm new here, and this is my first post!

So I have a question and there is no wrong answer, I would like to gauge your expert opinions to help me make a decision for the speakers I want for my new system.

I want to know what you think the best quality (frequency range more so than amplitude) per cubic inch is. As I value the space in my apartment and I don't want too much clutter. And amplitude is not too much a big deal as I don't want to piss off my neighbors. So satellite speakers are probably going to be the best given my parameters (i think). Basically the way I would like to gauge this is if speaker A is 10 cubic inches and B is 20. And A and B are considered equal if B has twice the quality of A.

Also can you give me two answers.. the best speakers where price is no object and another where you feel its a great buy for the quality and size.

In case your interested I'm leaning to getting a Pioneer Channel AV Receiver, VSX-1123-K. Mainly getting it for the web interfaces/app controls and overall features that I like. Also I plan on duplicating the speaker layout to another room. Any different suggestions for AV receiver I'll listen to that as well.. sorry bad pun.

Thanks guys!
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post #2 of 153 Old 09-09-2013, 06:30 PM
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Quality per cubic inch? Uh, no. Here's the deal: there's a minimum threshold for natural, realistic sounding music. A medium sized bookshelf aka stand mounted speaker will get you there, something that will get to 80-90hz in a meaningful way.

Anything smaller is a significant compromise, unless you also have a subwoofer.

But that's a compromise a lot of people are willing to make, because you can get a fair amount of enjoyment from a more compact speaker, it will just be lacking. Lots of people don't notice the shortcomings, because they don't really know what to listen for, or just aren't that worried about sound.

Here's an example of a reasonably high sound quality, small speaker, but many people feel they need a subwoofer:
http://www.nhthifi.com/Bookshelf-speaker-SuperZero-2-0-NLP

Some people like these, they may be the quality per cubic inch winner:
http://www.orbaudio.com/stereospeakers.aspx

You don't say how you plan to use the speakers.
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post #3 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 06:13 AM
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The simple answer is that where speakers are concerned size does matter. All speakers from all manufacturers must obey the same laws of physics, irrespective of their advertising claims. For further investigation google Hoffman's Iron Law.

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post #4 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 06:22 AM
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All speakers can handle the higher frequencies. Say 200 Hz and up. Anything lower than that, you need a certain size. Generally speaking, the larger the cabinet, the lower the speaker can go.
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post #5 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Buzzy, thank you for the suggestions its at least a start for me, I'm very lost in this market as there are so many compact speakers to choose from, and I'm not sure how much I want to compromise for size yet. And to answer your question I plan on using this system to play music/home theater in the living room and bedroom. Also I'm really not into booming bass and neither are my neighbors.

Thanks Bill and KidHorn, I know there is a trade off and laws of physics still apply. Ill look up Hoffman's Iron Law after this reply. And Kidhorn you are right you start loosing low frequency first then eventually if I want speakers small enough I'll probably loose midrange as well. But I know some manufactures do a much better job at creating very good sound at a small size compared to others as when you change technology physical restrictions change. Whats your thoughts on Cambridge sound works? SVS Ultra's?
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post #6 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 09:31 AM
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The Atlantic Technogy H-PAS speakers put out some serious bass relative to their cabinet/driver sizes, yet still maintain reasonable sensitivity.

http://www.atlantictechnology.com/default.asp?IsDev=False&NodeId=158

Do they break Hoffman's Iron Law? I don't know, but if they don't, then they probably at least come closer than anything else, especially the AT-1 towers.
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post #7 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 09:38 AM
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I think a better way to answer your question would be to give us this informaton:

Budget, size restraints, and uses/expectations.

You can't generalize speakers by size, you have to consider drivers, enclosure construction, crossovers, amplification, room acoustics, source material. All of these things affect how a speaker sounds, not just a cubic volume.

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post #8 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I think a better way to answer your question would be to give us this informaton:

Budget, size restraints, and uses/expectations.

You can't generalize speakers by size, you have to consider drivers, enclosure construction, crossovers, amplification, room acoustics, source material. All of these things affect how a speaker sounds, not just a cubic volume.

There's some truth to that, but I have yet to see a speaker that can generate a low FR that isn't in a large enclosure. There's a reason why woofers are a lot bigger than tweeters and it's not just to look impressive.
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post #9 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

There's some truth to that, but I have yet to see a speaker that can generate a low FR that isn't in a large enclosure. There's a reason why woofers are a lot bigger than tweeters and it's not just to look impressive.

Well I think that gets back to the expectations idea. It depends what people want from the speaker. "Sufficient bass" differs from person to person, so I think we need to figure what he wants these speakers to do before we can make some suggestions or a typical size to look for.

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post #10 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

The Atlantic Technogy H-PAS speakers put out some serious bass relative to their cabinet/driver sizes, yet still maintain reasonable sensitivity.

http://www.atlantictechnology.com/default.asp?IsDev=False&NodeId=158

Do they break Hoffman's Iron Law? I don't know, but if they don't, then they probably at least come closer than anything else, especially the AT-1 towers.

Thanks have you heard them?
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post #11 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I think a better way to answer your question would be to give us this informaton:

Budget, size restraints, and uses/expectations.

You can't generalize speakers by size, you have to consider drivers, enclosure construction, crossovers, amplification, room acoustics, source material. All of these things affect how a speaker sounds, not just a cubic volume.

Budget: $3,000-$4,000 (entire system)
Size: No restraints, just the smaller the better, please read my first post for details
uses: music / home theater

As for the other details, I have not bought anything yet. No preamp, no receiver, no crossover. Nothing, I would also assume the speaker system would include some bass unit I can hide in a corner that might include a crossover, but again I'm open to any ideas. Thanks!!!
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post #12 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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This is what I was reading for some ideas. Not sure how good of a review this is..
http://www.hometheater.com/category/compact-speaker-reviews
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post #13 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by det1024 View Post

Budget: $3,000-$4,000 (entire system)
Size: No restraints, just the smaller the better, please read my first post for details
uses: music / home theater

As for the other details, I have not bought anything yet. No preamp, no receiver, no crossover. Nothing, I would also assume the speaker system would include some bass unit I can hide in a corner that might include a crossover, but again I'm open to any ideas. Thanks!!!

Receiver: I would be looking at Denon for your receiver. The X4000 offers fantastic value and has Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and SubEQ. Audyssey calibrates your speakers based on speaker position and room acoustics, and can make a considerable difference in sound quality. Subwoofers tend to need the most help from software like this and SubEQ will do a great job setting everything up.

Speakers: I know you mention smaller is better, but I woud stray from satellite systems. You can get great sound from bookshelves when paired with a capable sub, and this gives you the best of both worlds. Now I am not sure what small means to you, but take a look at the Ascend Sierra-1 and let me know if this is appropriate. This is a fantastic speaker and offers plenty of detail and dynamics, without taking up a huge amount of space. Pair this with the matching center, and maybe a pair of HTM-200SE for surrounds, and you would have a compact, yet capable set of speakers.

Subwoofer: Since you want a compact system, a sealed sub would be a good choice. We need to know your room size to know how much sub to get, but with subs size usually dictates capability. If you buy from Ascend, you can get a discount on Rythmik subs and they offer a lot of great sealed (compact) options. You sacrifice some output with a sealed sub versus ported, but they wil dig deeper and a lot of people prefer them for music.

If those Ascends are still too big, I would suggest just spending a fraction of that budget. Cambridge Audio Minx speakers are very compact and seem to be well liked, but don't expect the same kind of volume and dynamics as the Ascends (or any non-satellite speaker).
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post #14 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:44 AM
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4 (5.1) or 6 (7.1) X Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
1 X Pioneer SP-C22
1 or even 2 X Pioneer SW-8MK2

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-BS22-LR
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post #15 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

The Atlantic Technogy H-PAS speakers put out some serious bass relative to their cabinet/driver sizes, yet still maintain reasonable sensitivity.

http://www.atlantictechnology.com/default.asp?IsDev=False&NodeId=158

Do they break Hoffman's Iron Law? I don't know, but if they don't, then they probably at least come closer than anything else, especially the AT-1 towers.

Looking at an independent review, the Atlantic Technology AT-1 achieves its exceptional 29Hz – 20kHz ±2dB response the old fashioned way - they exaggerate.

Please see: http://www.atlantictechnology.com/default.asp?NodeId=159 for their spec and http://www.stereophile.com/content/atlantic-technology-1-loudspeaker-measurements to see the independent view:

"The AT-1's upper-frequency response is superbly flat. At lower frequencies, while the summed nearfield response extends almost to 30Hz, –6dB, there is not quite as large an upper-bass boost as I was expecting from the nearfield measurement technique, which implies that the AT-1's lows are a little overdamped."
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post #16 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Receiver: I would be looking at Denon for your receiver. The X4000 offers fantastic value and has Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and SubEQ. Audyssey calibrates your speakers based on speaker position and room acoustics, and can make a considerable difference in sound quality. Subwoofers tend to need the most help from software like this and SubEQ will do a great job setting everything up.

Speakers: I know you mention smaller is better, but I woud stray from satellite systems. You can get great sound from bookshelves when paired with a capable sub, and this gives you the best of both worlds. Now I am not sure what small means to you, but take a look at the Ascend Sierra-1 and let me know if this is appropriate. This is a fantastic speaker and offers plenty of detail and dynamics, without taking up a huge amount of space. Pair this with the matching center, and maybe a pair of HTM-200SE for surrounds, and you would have a compact, yet capable set of speakers.

Subwoofer: Since you want a compact system, a sealed sub would be a good choice. We need to know your room size to know how much sub to get, but with subs size usually dictates capability. If you buy from Ascend, you can get a discount on Rythmik subs and they offer a lot of great sealed (compact) options. You sacrifice some output with a sealed sub versus ported, but they wil dig deeper and a lot of people prefer them for music.

If those Ascends are still too big, I would suggest just spending a fraction of that budget. Cambridge Audio Minx speakers are very compact and seem to be well liked, but don't expect the same kind of
volume and dynamics as the Ascends (or any non-satellite speaker).

Thanks I forgot to mention for uses, it needs to be networkable so I can control it from my computer or mobile device. It looks like the x4000 does this. Thanks, i'll consider this as a receiver. However might be too good of a receiver for the speakers I might get. I was considering the minx thanks for that suggestion.

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post #17 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shiznit View Post

4 (5.1) or 6 (7.1) X Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
1 X Pioneer SP-C22
1 or even 2 X Pioneer SW-8MK2

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-BS22-LR

Thanks. He held the subwoffer in his hand?!
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post #18 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

The Atlantic Technogy H-PAS speakers put out some serious bass relative to their cabinet/driver sizes, yet still maintain reasonable sensitivity.
Do they break Hoffman's Iron Law?
Even Chuck Norris can't break Hoffman's Iron Law. If a speaker is small and it goes low it does so with low sensitivity. That can be only overcome by using a very long excursion driver, and a very high powered amp, and as a result a much higher price tag. If it's small and has good sensitivity it can't go low. If it goes low and has good sensitivity it can't be small. If it claims to defy the laws of physics look elsewhere, they speak with forked tongue.
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post #19 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Even Chuck Norris can't break Hoffman's Iron Law. If a speaker is small and it goes low it does so with low sensitivity. That can be only overcome by using a very long excursion driver, and a very high powered amp, and as a result a much higher price tag. If it's small and has good sensitivity it can't go low. If it goes low and has good sensitivity it can't be small. If it claims to defy the laws of physics look elsewhere, they speak with forked tongue.

Hey Bill I read up on that Hoffman's Iron Law. I did mention I would give up on low frequency as the trade off for smaller box size. According to the articles I read I should still be able to have good speaker efficiency and still have small speaker size. I admit im confused about the efficiency part of it when reading up on the law. Not exact sure what that means..
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post #20 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Even Chuck Norris can't break Hoffman's Iron Law. If a speaker is small and it goes low it does so with low sensitivity. That can be only overcome by using a very long excursion driver, and a very high powered amp, and as a result a much higher price tag. If it's small and has good sensitivity it can't go low. If it goes low and has good sensitivity it can't be small. If it claims to defy the laws of physics look elsewhere, they speak with forked tongue.

But exactly what are the definitions of "small", "good sensitivity" and "goes low"?

The AT-1 tower's cabinet size is 8 7/8 x x 41 x 13 3/4", it's sensitivity is rated at 89 db (and measured even higher than that by Stereophile in arnyk's link above), and has been measured by at least 3 different sources as having usable output to at least 31.5 Hz with HTM and S&V in addition to the Stereophile's mentioned above. Just as random example, NHT's Classic Four is specified to 27 Hz, but it's cabinet is bigger and sensitivity lower.

As for AT's bookshelf/stand-mount version, I've heard several with bass rated down to at least the 45Hz or so range such as the Swan D2.1SE, Ascend Sierra, and NHT's Classic Three and SB-3 for just a few examples that had cabinets about the same size as the AT-2's (if not even smaller), but they were all rated with somewhat lower sensitivity.
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post #21 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Even Chuck Norris can't break Hoffman's Iron Law. If a speaker is small and it goes low it does so with low sensitivity. That can be only overcome by using a very long excursion driver, and a very high powered amp, and as a result a much higher price tag. If it's small and has good sensitivity it can't go low. If it goes low and has good sensitivity it can't be small. If it claims to defy the laws of physics look elsewhere, they speak with forked tongue.
I don't know if you remember the Platinum Audio Solo designed by Phil Jones which they made about 20 minutes away from me in Bedford NH. Great bottom end but at a cost, The speakers were rated at 84db. You needed some hefty power to get them to sing.smile.gif
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post #22 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 01:57 PM
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Cambridge S30s are well liked and they are pretty small. The SVS Sb1000 is a pretty small sub. The efficiency part of Hoffmans law is how capable the speaker is with energy, and this has to do with its sensitivity spec. Speaker A with, say, a 85 dB sensitivity can 85 dB loud with 1 watt at a distance of 1 meter. Speaker B that has 88 dB sensitivity obviously does 88 dB loud at one meter for one watt. A 3 dB increase is a doubling of efficiency, and this means that speaker B is twice as efficient as speaker A, and your amplifier will go twice as far with speaker B. There is more to it than that, of course, but that is the short version.
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post #23 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 02:33 PM
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A 3 dB increase is a doubling of efficiency, and this means that speaker B is twice as efficient as speaker A, and your amplifier will go twice as far with speaker B. There is more to it than that, of course, but that is the short version.
When discussing sensitivity one must be aware that while a 3dB increase does double efficiency, it does not double perceived loudness. That requires a 10dB increase in sensitivity. The real kicker is that to get the same level from a speaker with 90dB sensitivity as one with 80dB sensitivity requires ten times the power, so 100 watts with the former would require 1000 watts with the latter.
Another issue is that speaker manufacturers routinely play fast and loose with their specs. If you can find an actual measured SPL chart, from the manufacturer or a third party, that will show real sensitivity numbers. If you can't you're at the mercy of advertising departments, who often write checks that their engineering departments cannot cash. The average sensitivity for a single woofer speaker is 87dB/watt, that for a dual woofer speaker is 90dB/watt. Numbers much higher than that are usually inflated, sometimes ridiculously so.
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post #24 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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When discussing sensitivity one must be aware that while a 3dB increase does double efficiency, it does not double perceived loudness. That requires a 10dB increase in sensitivity. The real kicker is that to get the same level from a speaker with 90dB sensitivity as one with 80dB sensitivity requires ten times the power, so 100 watts with the former would require 1000 watts with the latter.
Another issue is that speaker manufacturers routinely play fast and loose with their specs. If you can find an actual measured SPL chart, from the manufacturer or a third party, that will show real sensitivity numbers. If you can't you're at the mercy of advertising departments, who often write checks that their engineering departments cannot cash. The average sensitivity for a single woofer speaker is 87dB/watt, that for a dual woofer speaker is 90dB/watt. Numbers much higher than that are usually inflated, sometimes ridiculously so.

Thanks Shady and Bill, So it looks like I'm not too concerned for having a lot of efficiency either as the receivers I'm looking at pack a lot more watts than I will ever need. Correct me if I'm wrong but its looking like small speakers are best for my needs as I'm willing to trade in low frequency and efficiency for smaller size.
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post #25 of 153 Old 09-10-2013, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
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its looking like small speakers are best for my needs as I'm willing to trade in low frequency and efficiency for smaller size.
That depends on if you're going to use subs. Since they will handle the lows you can go with fairly small mains. By fairly small I mean single 5 inch or 6.5 inch woofers, or dual 4 inch woofers. As for subs, I wouldn't use any with smaller than ten inch drivers. But since subs can be placed out of the way they're easier to deal with.

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post #26 of 153 Old 09-11-2013, 06:17 AM
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Not to mention that, generally speaking, speakers are more efficient at higher frequencies and I've found that efficient speakers tend to overemphasize the higher frequencies and sound hollow to me. Klipsch are the classic example of this.

I suggest looking at some of the 5.1 speaker packages you can get from svs or hsu or other sub vendors. You can get a good price by grouping everything together.

the Denon 4000 is a good choice for a receiver. You get a near top of the line receiver for a middle of the line price.
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post #27 of 153 Old 09-11-2013, 07:07 AM
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Essentially, Atlantic Technology's AT-1 & AT-2 do break Hoffman's Iron Law.

How? For familiarity's sake, it's what I would describe as modified line transmission line design. The bass from even just the AT-2 bookshelf model is incredible and that of large towers from a small enclosure. The Floor standing AT-1 is stunning when it comes to size and low end performance. There's nothing even close, and I mean even in the same ball park, when it comes to bass output to size ratio. I wouldn't recommend this for "Ultimate" performance, but I could see people running the AT-1 tower as "LARGE" in their receivers and not using a subwoofer in a family room or smaller theater. They have that kind of bass output and force. When AT rates them at 29hz that is with real, usable output. Impressive speakers, no doubt!

IMO, best is totally up to the listener, but for their size the AT-2 & AT-1 are absolute monsters.
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post #28 of 153 Old 09-11-2013, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Not to mention that, generally speaking, speakers are more efficient at higher frequencies and I've found that efficient speakers tend to overemphasize the higher frequencies and sound hollow to me. Klipsch are the classic example of this.

I suggest looking at some of the 5.1 speaker packages you can get from svs or hsu or other sub vendors. You can get a good price by grouping everything together.

the Denon 4000 is a good choice for a receiver. You get a near top of the line receiver for a middle of the line price.

Thanks, 5.1 minx is the plan i'm leaning too. I just need to do more research on that Denon 4000 and a few other receivers as thats a step up from what I was originally thinking of. But two people suggesting that system is making me seriously consider it.
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post #29 of 153 Old 09-11-2013, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

Essentially, Atlantic Technology's AT-1 & AT-2 do break Hoffman's Iron Law.

How? For familiarity's sake, it's what I would describe as modified line transmission line design. The bass from even just the AT-2 bookshelf model is incredible and that of large towers from a small enclosure. The Floor standing AT-1 is stunning when it comes to size and low end performance. There's nothing even close, and I mean even in the same ball park, when it comes to bass output to size ratio. I wouldn't recommend this for "Ultimate" performance, but I could see people running the AT-1 tower as "LARGE" in their receivers and not using a subwoofer in a family room or smaller theater. They have that kind of bass output and force. When AT rates them at 29hz that is with real, usable output. Impressive speakers, no doubt!

IMO, best is totally up to the listener, but for their size the AT-2 & AT-1 are absolute monsters.

Thanks PlexMulti,

I'll read up on the AT-2's. I know nothing about those.
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post #30 of 153 Old 09-11-2013, 10:36 AM
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What about Cambridge soundworks ,I was from Massachusetts,I was a loyal costumer of Cambridge for years, very good speakers.


http://store.cambridgesoundworks.com/b/2744206011

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