An ACI Upgrade - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 360 Old 02-07-2004, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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danbry39,

Thanks for the encouragement. Yeah, it's been a real learning experience. I've tried to be fair and candid in my opinions, and I'm glad to see that there are folks interested in getting a feel for what the journey is like. There have definitely been surprises, both good (comparison today) and bad (darned UPS). If there's anyone on the cusp, I encourage you to give this a try.


E,

I'm still on the fence with the Protege. I'm tempted to abuse my budget and swap the Protege for the Essence, keep the Sapphires for surrounds, and swap the Emeralds On-Wall and a few more $ for Panoramas. After hearing what's possible, and considering the budget difference, it sure is tempting...


MikeD,

What do you think? Would Panoramas + Essence in the front with Sapphires in the back be a good 5.1 setup? I'd use my Velodyne for the .1 part.

-Bill
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post #92 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
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epiney,

Don't see how you can hijack the thread -- all good stuff, and thanks for the encouragement. It looks like your 703 panels are something I'd like to try. My room is pretty lively. I have a few other things to do first, but if you don't mind, I may be interested in a following up with you for more information.

Re: the 5900, there's a VERY long thread here on that unit. It seems to get a lot of respect from the PJ crowd. It was one of my top contenders, but in the end, it lost to the 59AVi, but for different reasons than performance. Anyhow, it was a long thread but a good read.

Sorry for the divergence. Now, back to our regularly scheduled topic...

-Bill
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post #93 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Caveat: Label all of this as IMHO. YMMV.

E,

Up here in frozen tundra country (Ohio), UPS doesn't deliver on weekends -- bible or not. You shouldn't feel singled out. I thought UPS didn't deliver anywhere on weekends, but maybe that's just some areas of the US?

Re: the PMC, yes, it was their new tower. Very nice speaker, and you're probably on target comparing them to the Panoramas. They sounded fuller to me but sonically similar. But the price is simply out of my league. And the ACIs have a nicer appearance to my eye.

Re: the Protege, I remain on the fence. We'll see.

-Bill
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post #94 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 09:44 AM
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Are speakers fun or what! Anyone with an understanding female should stock up on English Patient or flowers or whatever service is deemed WOW by said adoring unit ;^)
Thoughts for a Sunday.
E
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post #95 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 03:29 PM
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Bill,

Great thread!

My two cents are, if you are anything like me, if you think there is something missing, it will nag at you the whole time and if you think you might upgrade one day to the Essence, you might as well do it now while you are in the 30 day period and save some money over the long run.

Just my two cents and I look forward to reading more of your insights!

Tom
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post #96 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Tom. I appreciate the input. Not quite sure what I'll do, but whatever it is, I intend to do it in the 30 day trial period.
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post #97 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 05:16 PM
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Thanks to everyone for continued contribution AND civility and humor :)

Danbry:

Just got back from skiing on the yacht. Years ago we would XC ski for 15-20 miles up and down the hills. Today was probably less than 4 miles flat and I feel it already. A great time though, and we plan to ski a lot more.

Epiney:
I am jealous of your projector, I’ve heard great things about it. Mine is a Sanyo Z1, was going to order a Z2 but didn’t want to wait. The idea was to use it for maybe six months then move up. The PQ is good enough for us that we’re now thinking more like 12-18 months as the technology seems to be improving so rapidly. I can barely watch anything on either the 27†or 32†TVs anymore . . .

Bill:

I think Tom had great advice as far as the Protégé vs. Essence, etc. My sentiment exactly. Panorama-Essence across the front with Sapphires in the back is one terrific setup. Just a note, don’t worry too much about the “30 daysâ€. We are always flexible on this. Quite common for us to give an extra week or two, sometimes more if needed. We rather do that than have anyone end up with a setup of ours that isn’t exactly what they want. All we ask is that you email sales, or give the office a call to make an extension.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Mike Dzurko
Audio Concepts, Inc. (ACI)
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post #98 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill-99

What do you think? Would Panoramas + Essence in the front with Sapphires in the back be a good 5.1 setup? I'd use my Velodyne for the .1 part.

-Bill
Bill, I have that set-up with an SVS PB2+ as the .1. If I had of known ACI was introducing the Maestro, I may have ended up with it. I think it's a great set up for the following reasons:

1) IMHO, I think the Essence matches up better with the Panoramas than Sapphires
2) For two channel, I run straight analog bypass with no sub and the Panoramas go much deeper than the Sapphires and I find them much more satisfying for stereo.

As far the theater, it was my first time, so I made mistakes. I originally wanted to keep the room multipurpose, but it has become theater only. Doing it again I may hire a designer such as Dennis Erskine to design it and use lincoustic along the bottom half of the wall covered with GOM. Since I didn't do that, I had to make panels.

Ordered a box of OC 703 and made frames with 1x2s and stapled GOM fabric. Used the simple mirror trick to find the reflection points on the wall. Will add a few panels on the back wall and ceiling. I'm still not finished.

Regarding the upgrade from Protege to Essence, I'm more of a buy and hold type. I don't sell and upgrade frequently. So, I try to bite the bullet the first time around, particularly for speakers. I'm glad I did. Good luck and keep us posted.

Mike,

Agree with you on the 27" TV. Especially can't watch wide screen DVDs. Do you have HDTV? I just got it a few weeks ago and watched the Superbowl in HD on the big screen. It was incredible.
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post #99 of 360 Old 02-08-2004, 09:09 PM
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For those of you on the fence about Protege vs. Essence, do not be deterred by the 30 day trial period. I got my Essence in early November and when I unboxed it I was like "No way...this thing is a monster." Nearly twice the size of my previous Paradigm Studio Ref CC. I e-mailed Mike and said I needed more time to really determine if it fit my needs or if I could stand to downsize to a Protege (notice I said downsize, not downgrade). Anyway, Mike was lenient about the 30 days and told me to take extra time if I needed it but stressed that although the Protege was a nice speaker, it was indeed far inferior to the much better Essence.

I knew that if I sent the Essence back for the Protege I would always wonder what I missed out on so I sucked it up and kept the Essence and I am glad that I did...it's a killer center speaker. A real rock to build a HT around. The only issue is how to you support it's size in your HT, either with the Sound Anchors stands shown earlier or integrated into a pretty big HT armoire, that's the challenge. The sound speaks for itself.

My .02

Still searching for that elusive, "perfect" sound
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post #100 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 07:00 AM
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Evan
Your .02 is more like a 1000.00
Thanks
E
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post #101 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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MikeD,

Thanks for the flexibility. It's refreshing to see companies with people that care about their products and customer satisfaction. You make this easy.


epiney / Evan S and all,

You've all convinced me: I'm going to give the Panoramas and Essence center a try. I'm not sure how it will all turn out. Stay tuned, and I'll keep the thread going with your help.

-Bill
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post #102 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 09:50 AM
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hi bill. sounds like you're making a smart decision. i was between the Emeralds (3) and Sapphires/Essence for the front and opted for Sapphires and have never looked back. sometimes i wonder if the Emeralds would have been good enough, but i never long for much. upgraditis is on hold for a while!

one question for you... how much 2-channel listening will you do with this set up? i ask because if it's limited you might want to consider an all-Essence front end. i seem to remember Mike suggesting this to someone in the past and there are some ACI owners out there with this config that really love it. just thought you could use a little more to chew on... ;-)

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post #103 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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jstorerj,

Trying to torture the buyer with more choices, eh? ;-) I hope it's a smart decision, and thanks for the encouragement.

Re: Essence V + Essence, I never really considered it. I hope this isn't going to keep me awake nights! Seriously, though, it's hard to be certain what the right choice is. Some might argue that access to these products at a local vendor might help, but perhaps not. What speaker in a showroom ever sounds like it does in your home?

Perhaps it comes down to how the system will be used. In my case, it's starting to look like a 3 way split between 2-channel, DVDs, and HDTV. The exact percentages may change but roughly 1/3 for each is close. When I listen to 2 channel, it needs to sound GREAT. IMO, the Sapphires sound Great... and my hope is the Panoramas take it up a notch. We'll see.

-Bill
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post #104 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 12:37 PM
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<snip>When I listen to 2 channel, it needs to sound GREAT. <snip>

I've been where you are now and suffice it to say it is torturous, but in the best way possible. We could have much bigger challenges! ;-)

People with a lot more experience than me have said that stand mounted monitors will most often sound better than comparable towers. Since you're sensitive to good sounding 2-channel and this set up isn't a dedicated HT/HD environment I think you're making the right choice bringing in the Panoramas. The Essence V's might make sense otherwise.

I'm looking forward to your continued impressions. This is a very enjoyable thread/ACI user group.

Jim

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post #105 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Caveat: Consider all of this as IMHO, in my room, with my electronics, with my ears, etc. Bottom line here is YMMV.

After lots of listening and a bit of consideration, I made the following changes to my ACI order:

RETURN
- 2 pr of Emeralds on-wall
- 1 (slightly abused by UPS) Protege center channel
- 200' of DH Labs ST-100 wire + banana connectors

KEEP
- Sapphires
- Atlantis Pro Stands
- 3 T-14 15' + bananas (L/C/R)
- 3 pair BL-1 interconnects
- 1 D-75 digital cable

BUY
- Panoramas (with a custom finish)
- Essence center
- another pair of Atlantis Pro Stands
- Sound Anchor center channel stand

So, what's wrong with the products that caused them to be returned? And why did I keep some items, and why do the new products look like the right way to go?

ACI has speakers at a lot of different price and quality points. With better companies, spending more usually means you get a better product. After taking a cold, hard look at the products on hand, it was clear to me that the Protege and Emeralds On-Wall were a cut below the quality level of the Sapphires in audio performance. They are good values at their price point, but after listening to the Sapphires, well, let's just say that the Sapphires are very persuasive. They made me question whether I'd ever be happy to settle for anything less, and I decided to push the cost envelope a little. Once the decision to return the EOWs and Protege was made, that 200' of ST-100 was no longer needed to run wire for surrounds, so it went into the pile of returns, too.

As for the Sapphires, it's hard to ignore just how good these speakers are. 'Nuf said. I'm probably preaching to the choir, and MikeD will start blushing soon. The stands look great, too, and that helps with the SAF. I haven't used a lot of stands, so there are likely others that would work as well. But as I said, these look great.

Let's talk wire for a moment. I compared the DH Labs T-14, MITerminator2 and 12ga Home Depot speaker wire. The results were more subtle but the sound was best from the T-14, next best was the MIT2, and coming in last was the 12ga wire. I'd been using a variety of old interconnects for the 6 wires needed for SACD and DVD-Audio connections and a DIY "Silver Bit Transfer" for the digital connection. The BL-1s and D-75 were a convenient, value proposition that do the job better and clean up a small mess. At the price, with the discount, with the return policy, it was a fairly painless choice. More comparisons are in the queue, and I'll post the results soon.

Lastly, the story on the new purchases is simple: I'm looking for performance that's a cut above. As the Sapphires outperform the Emeralds, the Panoramas seem likely to outperform the Sapphires. And hopefully the Essence will best the Protege.

Now for the hard part. It'll be 3 to 4 weeks before the new equipment is ready. Then there's shipping, delivery (not "drop off", thanks -- see post on initial delivery) and break-in. Looks like it'll be 6 weeks before this story gets close to the finish line.

Meanwhile, I have some packages to return. In the interim, living with just the Sapphires doesn't seem like too big of a sacrifice.

-Bill
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post #106 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by thedeskE
Evan
Your .02 is more like a 1000.00
Thanks
E
Evan... Your 0.02 influenced me to try ACI and buy an Anthem AVM20 and a Sherbourn 7/2100. So I guess in my case it's worth about 10 grand :D Hope the new house is going well

Bill,

Congrats, please keep us posted on your impressions. My experience is similar to yours. I had a pair of Sapphires first before ordering the Essence and Panoramas.

Mike D- off topic
Are you still looking for a screen? Noticed in an old post. I bought a Carrada (internet direct). David Giles provides great service and sells screens for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the big 4 (Stewart, Da lite, Draper and Vutec) I had 13 screen samples before buying the Brilliant White which was virtually indistinguishable from Stewart's Studiotek 130 (Joe Kane's reference fabric) at half the cost. darinp, a knowledgeable member with about 3 or 4 front PJ set ups in his home bought one for his bedroom and said it was about the same as the Stewart.

Also please keep us informed of the sub eq you may carry.
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post #107 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 05:05 PM
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Bill,
Good luck with your `Packin'
My Saphs arrived today and in fine shape for a test set(Mike helped me with a used set) and after only a few tracks on the Steely Everything Must Go, I can agree that they are pleasing.
The tweeter is always my first question and I like the caracter of this one. I'll need time to make any quality comments, but like you, I think everyone here has been there already.
On the day I might order Panoramas, these would be very respectable in the rear.
As for my Ptotege, I think it does most things well, but I'm probably going for the Essence in the coming weeks. I just need something a little bigger - a simple way to put it. Gotta get Mike a note soon.
I didn't really need the group's opinion on this, but I'll keep all the comments in my pocket for later (just in case I need someone to blame;))

Thanks To All
E
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post #108 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 07:13 PM
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Evan... Your 0.02 influenced me to try ACI and buy an Anthem AVM20 and a Sherbourn 7/2100. So I guess in my case it's worth about 10 grand Hope the new house is going well
It's amazing the power of the internet, huh? Seriously though, the new house is awesome, the HT room is awesome, cannot complain. Love my place, love my gear, pretty content actually.

Check that, I would love a pair of Talisman's for a room upstairs, but that is a WAYS away!

Still searching for that elusive, "perfect" sound
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post #109 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 07:25 PM
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Bill,

Glad we could drag you down the slippery slope with the rest of us :D

I think you will be glad with your decision, the hard part is the wait!

I'm just glad nobody is posting how much better the Jaguar LFMs are compared to the Panoramas... then I would be in trouble :D

Tom
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post #110 of 360 Old 02-09-2004, 09:54 PM
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Bill,

I really think you're making the right decision. One thing I've learned, at least for me personally, is to do it right the first time. Not that the Sapphires as fronts would have been wrong, only that it's better to see how the Panoramas work out for you now. I hate having second thoughts down the line as to whether I made the right decision.

Tbhugh,

The Jaguars must be beasts (no pun intended). But, I bet they're pretty special!!!
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post #111 of 360 Old 02-10-2004, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by epiney

Mike D- off topic
Are you still looking for a screen? Noticed in an old post. I bought a Carrada (internet direct). David Giles provides great service and sells screens for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the big 4 (Stewart, Da lite, Draper and Vutec) I had 13 screen samples before buying the Brilliant White which was virtually indistinguishable from Stewart's Studiotek 130 (Joe Kane's reference fabric) at half the cost. darinp, a knowledgeable member with about 3 or 4 front PJ set ups in his home bought one for his bedroom and said it was about the same as the Stewart.

Also please keep us informed of the sub eq you may carry.
Great minds think alike! Given the choice, for some reason I will always go factory-direct :) I struck up a dialog with David at Carada before Christmas and ordered a 16:9 102" diag in Cinema white. Great product, great picture, great service, highly recommended!

As far as the EQ, make sure you check the website for updates and subscribe to the ACI Confidential newsletter. Those are the two ways we get the word out. When people ask questions here, I'll reply here. However, I don't think it would be right for me to make announcements on a forum like this. Have a great day!

Mike Dzurko
Audio Concepts, Inc. (ACI)
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post #112 of 360 Old 02-10-2004, 07:13 AM
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it must be in our DNA... carada 110" (16x9) cinema white. ;-)

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television - David Letterman
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post #113 of 360 Old 02-10-2004, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
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e / tbhugh / danbry39,

Thanks for the encouraging words. The packing was straightforward. How much it will cost to return 4 of the 6 boxes is unknown. Would people reading this thread like to know? My guess is yes since that's information on out of pocket cost if things don't work out. Unless someone objects, I'll post approximate shipping costs here later this week.

Re: making the right decision for the Panoramas / Essence, your comments echo my thoughts. Or perhaps you've influenced me enough that I'm echoing your comments. Still, the purchases I've most regretted have been when I tried to save a few bucks and compromised on quality. The purchase decisions that have given the most long term satisfaction have been those that focused on quality first, even with increased up front pain (dollar cost).

And at this price, the last thing I want is regrets. Besides, regrets have a very low SAF.

-Bill
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post #114 of 360 Old 02-10-2004, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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MikeD,

Can you give us an idea of how the sound of the Panorama compares to the Jaguar? tbhugh posed this as a question in jest, but it's a good question and I'm curious.

-Bill
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post #115 of 360 Old 02-10-2004, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Caveat: Consider all of this as IMHO, with my ears, etc. Bottom line here is YMMV.

More comparisons and more opinions...

A friend who is an avid Maggie fan urged me to listen to the 1.6's and 3.6's before making a decision. He owns a Maggie model that is no longer available, and because it'd been a while since I last listened to Maggies, I spent a little time listening to the 3.6's at a local A/V dealer this evening. These speakers are nearly $5000 MSRP. What they seem to do right is mid-bass through lower midrange. To my ear, female vocalists don't sound right. Pleasant, yes, but not right. The salesman suggested not wasting my time on the 1.6's if I didn't like the 3.6's, so we skipped that test.

Next up was a pair of Reference 3A's. It was last years model that used to run about $2500/pr -- the new one is up a couple hundred bucks more. It's a 2-way with an 8 inch carbon fiber woofer and a silk dome tweeter. The high end was a breath of fresh air after the Maggies, but there's something that isn't quite right in the midrange, and the speakers come off sounding boxy and oddly out of focus. Definitely inferior to the Sapphires.

The last audition was the Paradigm flagship n-way speakers which come in at about $6000/pr. I say "n-way" because they have something like 6 or 7 speakers per tower. It gave them a lot more oomph throughout the spectrum, and they sounded nice, but they used a metal dome tweeter and it quickly grew tiring. To their credit, it's probably the best metal dome tweeter I've heard, but it was still tiring.

After the auditions, I came home and did a quick sanity check with the Sapphires. It again confirmed that the Sapphires are the Real Deal. The more I compare, the more I understand how amazing these speakers are.

That's it for now. Time to go do some Sapphire listening for fun.

-Bill
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post #116 of 360 Old 02-12-2004, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill-99
MikeD,

Can you give us an idea of how the sound of the Panorama compares to the Jaguar? tbhugh posed this as a question in jest, but it's a good question and I'm curious.

-Bill
Tougher question than you might think. First, we really designed the Jag/LFM to be a full range system. Occasionally, we sell Jags by themselves, but not often. So, a better comparison might be the Talisman. Then again, the Panorama is exactly like the Talisman, just minus the sub section and EQ.

Now, most of the time when people do shootouts, it is between bookshelf sized speakers. It is a real pain to be moving Jag/LFMs and Talismans in and out of a listening space so, it isn't something I've done a lot of. More like listening to one system for a month or more and then moving it out and moving the other one in. At this point, I haven't had the Jag/LFM in my room for over a year.

I think I can best sum it up by saying that if your goal is the very ultimate two-speaker stereo possible, it is tough to beat Jags/LFMs that are well setup. Like any high performance system, placement is very important as is setup. And, the sweet spot is bigger than a lot of two-speaker systems, but still, best for one centrally placed listener. Once they are dialed in, well :)

Now, if you goal is actually a system that can do both great two-channel and HT, then the Panorama or Talisman may actually be a better choice. They have better vertical dispersion, so combined with a great center the sweet spot is much wider. And, they have exactly the same mid-tweeter array as our centers so a perfect match across the front soundstage is possible. Thanks for asking!:)

Mike Dzurko
Audio Concepts, Inc. (ACI)
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post #117 of 360 Old 02-13-2004, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I mentioned earlier that I'd post the cost of returning goods to ACI. Here's the break down on shipping & insurance charges.
- a pair of EOWs, $26.50
- the other pair of EOWs, $26.10
- the Essence, $25.35
- wire & bananas, $11.70
Total: $89.65

Had I also decided to return the Sapphires and stands, it likely would still have been less than $150. This strikes me as a decent trade off. In this case, the buyer had up to 30 days for evaluation with a downside risk of 3.4% of the price of the items. This is less than many vendors charge for a restocking fee. Of course, this is from one midwest location to another, so YMMV.

-Bill
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post #118 of 360 Old 02-18-2004, 03:54 PM
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update - i added a sound anchor center stand to my system and the essence just loves it. thanks all.

bill - looking forward to more posts - how are the sapphires sounding?

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television - David Letterman
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post #119 of 360 Old 02-19-2004, 09:46 AM
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Mike:

Will the Essence or Veritas center match up with the Jaguar-LFM system? Which would be better? I'm contemplating doing a theater system and trying to decide if it is possible to combine this with my stereo music system or if I need to keep it completely separate. I do hate the thought of a big video box between my main speakers, argh!
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post #120 of 360 Old 02-19-2004, 10:30 AM
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jstorerj
I'll chime in on my Sapphires.
The more I listen, the more I like. I noticed how acoustic guitars are darn near perfect with these speakers. The tweeter is just where I like it. I've yet to hear anything harsh from a good source.
For now, my set are in front, but I expect to add the Essence/Panorama front in the coming weeks/months. If there is any gripe, it would be that I'll need a much bigger amp/receiver for a full set of ACIs, but that gives me a great excuse to think about a B&K or Bryston setup. I don't mind those thoughts. I should probably look at the Anthem as well.
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