HTD level three bookshelf speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 01-25-2007, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
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These are my first impressions. Only one evening of listening.

All interactions with company on the phone have been excellent. Person was very helpful and polite.

The speakers shipped out Friday and I got them Wed at work and took them home. Boxes were undamaged in transit. Speakers were double boxed with styrofome panels in between the box and speakers sides and top and bottom and some in between the speakers. They were wrapped in some kind of plastic bag.
I ordered the black because the maple was backordered to March. The black is cool looking, very smooth surface, semi gloss. I like the smooth look of the speakers.

Excellent gold double binding posts, I guess for bi-wiring.
I placed each speaker on top of my existing speakers, which puts them about 6 to 8 inches above my ear height when sitting on the couch.
I did not do any calibration with my pioneer elite, which has mcaac or some combo of initials like that. I listened with subs in and no subs.

Top end is smooth. The ribbons are smooth but these speakers are more inefficient than my regular speakers so I had to turn volume up more. The speakers sound better when played loud. The speakers are much more 'distant' sounding than my regular speakers. A different listening experience to be sure. I regularly listen to JBL 4412 A studio monitors, which are 3 way with 12 inch woofer, 4 inch mid, and 1 inch tweeter. Two of the level threes are almost as big as one of the JBLs. The 3s are two way with a small 6 inch woofer in a transmission line layout and a ribbon tweeter. I don't know if the size of the ribbon is considered small medium or large as I have no previous experience with ribbons. I would characterize the JBL's as present and up front, there is no missing the fact that the speakers are playing. The HTDs are more distant, not as in your face. I did slowly crank up steely dan cd and listened to godwacker and lunch with gina at relatively high volume and heard no distress or compression. I wanted to be careful and not damage the speakers so volume was not absolutely outrageously high, although the brat did go "yo" once, which signifies it is getting loud to his ears.

I don't know if these speakers require breakin or not. I ran them all night with the weather channel playing at low volume..

The brat and the warden will be watching tv tonight so no serious listening. My first impression is a reserved "I am not impressed" - however - sometimes the speakers that don't impress right away turn out over time to be the preferred listening experience. I will continue to listen with high def dolby tv shows, digital cable music, dvd's and cd's. Some people say ribbons are excellent top end sound, smooth and natural so these speakers deserve a chance to have an extended listening evaluation. I will be spending much more time over the 30 day eval period listening to music and watching movies.

I also have NHT classic three's being delivered. In addition, I will be able to compare them all to JBL S38 bookshelf speakers as well.

As I have some time with them over the weekend I will try to post more of my impressions.

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post #2 of 43 Old 01-25-2007, 06:05 PM
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I just ordered a pair of HTD Level 3's too but they will be used as surround speakers so the sound out of them are not as critical. Mostly used for HT use.
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post #3 of 43 Old 01-25-2007, 06:23 PM
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I will be surprised if you don't find the Classic threes to be much better. Ascend 340s are, in my opinion, MUCH better. The HTDs are less expensive than both.

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post #4 of 43 Old 01-26-2007, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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quick update
I was listening to a song from the groovalicious cd and it has a very nicely recorded bell chime and I wasn't hearing it.
wtf mate?
I understand ribbons have a reputation for nice top end but this sound is muted.
So, this is why I am an amateur, I checked the set up on the receiver and I had a thx curve active, which rolls off the top end.
I adjusted it to flat.
OK, time to begin re-evaluation. The top end is now back in play as intended. I will have to listen to these again.
We are on day 3 and listening to Dave Sanborn. Sax sounds very clear and natural. I reset crossover to 50Hz for the sub. That works ok in stereo.

To the other poster who mentioned the ascend. I am trying to go six identical small speakers, I can not support that size speaker. I am assuming the ascend you refer to is their larger model?? You are not talking about their little two way being far superior are you?

gotta run
will post more later after weekend listening
ciao

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post #5 of 43 Old 01-26-2007, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone215 View Post

To the other poster who mentioned the ascend. I am trying to go six identical small speakers, I can not support that size speaker. I am assuming the ascend you refer to is their larger model?? You are not talking about their little two way being far superior are you?

mziegler and I compare the CBM-170SE and the Level 3 Bookshelf. Clarity, articulation, and top to bottom detail easily favored the 170SE IMO....but the also cost more. To me, the Level 3 did not sound very clean....you could not isolate instruments as easily. Compared to other similarly priced/size ID bookshelves, the HTDs fall short IMO.

I will also be surprised if you do not fair better with the Classic Three's. A warmer presentation, but much more even and clean, and bit laid back.

Here are a couple of pictures of the HTD Middy, Ascend CBM-170SE, and HTD Level 3.




If the pricepoint of the Level 3's is what you are looking for, add the Onix X-LS to your list for comparison.

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post #6 of 43 Old 01-26-2007, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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so you are saying it is the little ascend that sounds real good
that is interesting
I may have to add that to the audition list as it is even smaller than the htd,
Nice
thanks for adding that info.

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post #7 of 43 Old 01-26-2007, 11:51 PM
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I compared the Level 2, Level 3, 170SE, and x-ls. I ended up choosing the x-ls. IMO HTDs can't compete with 170SE or x-ls.
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post #8 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

To me, the Level 3 did not sound very clean....you could not isolate instruments as easily.

I would guess that is from using that type of ribbon tweeter without a mid-range driver. That type of ribbon tweeter doesn't do much below about 5K Hz. That woofer is being forced to cover a range that it shouldn't be and degrading whatever it is actually capable of.
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post #9 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 07:49 AM
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I am re-reviewing the HTD on Sunday (already did the re-review but want to verify my results) cause after been exposed to the Strata Minis, Ive been hearing some "raspy" sounds to some instruments. I will report back on this issue. I will try to take some measurements even though my meter is not calibrated.

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post #10 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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so far these are the recommendations for small speakers usable as 6 identical speakers with shall we say above average sound quality


Manufacturer speaker type size hxwxd efficiency
Home Theater Direct HTD 3 2 way ribbonTL 15.75" x 8.7" x 10.8" 87
Now Hear This NHT 3 3 way sealed 13.75 x 7.5 x 10.375 87dB (2.83v@1m)
Onix X-LS 2 way ported 13.5" H x 8.5" W x 12.125" 87dB @ 1w/1M
Ascend CBM-170SE 2 way ported 12" x 9" x 10" 89dB @ 1w/1m

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post #11 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone215 View Post

so far these are the recommendations for small speakers usable as 6 identical speakers with shall we say above average sound quality


Manufacturer speaker type size hxwxd efficiency
Home Theater Direct HTD 3 2 way ribbonTL 15.75" x 8.7" x 10.8" 87
Now Hear This NHT 3 3 way sealed 13.75 x 7.5 x 10.375 87dB (2.83v@1m)
Onix X-LS 2 way ported 13.5" H x 8.5" W x 12.125" 87dB @ 1w/1M
Ascend CBM-170SE 2 way ported 12" x 9" x 10" 89dB @ 1w/1m

NHT 3s are close to $700/pair, so if that is your price range - take a look at Onix Ref 1s too. I am also looking at some of these for a 2.1 setup (to start with).
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post #12 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I am trying to keep it at or below 300 each speaker as 6 x 300 = 1800 bucks. Considering the system already sounds good, I need to justify the cost with the sound improvement. One thing I have now is lots of headroom, efficiency, and low distortion and low compression. Hey, nowhere to go but up right?

That doesn't include the next dilema, the sub upgrades.

ciao

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post #13 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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aren't the onix references rather large and would mounting be problematical?

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post #14 of 43 Old 01-27-2007, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luis Gabriel Gerena View Post

I am re-reviewing the HTD on Sunday (already did the re-review but want to verify my results) cause after been exposed to the Strata Minis, Ive been hearing some "raspy" sounds to some instruments. I will report back on this issue. I will try to take some measurements even though my meter is not calibrated.

Regards

Luis, if you can use a PC and 'Room EQ Wizard' to do the measurements, I highly recommend it! HomeTheaterShack just released version 4 as well.

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post #15 of 43 Old 01-31-2007, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Just a slight update on the HTD 3's.
Spent some time listening over the weekend to MMW End of World Party, David Sanborn Time Again, and David Benoit Fuzzy Logic.
Cymbals and piano very natural sounding. Natural being the key word. These speakers perform very well at this price.
Need volume. It seems the speakers come alive and sound better when cranked. This is kind of a surprise to me as I figured the ribbons would be good at low volumes. Maybe it's my room?
Any way, these speakers are able to play loud with no compression or audible (to me) distortion.
If you are looking for a pair of speakers in the 300 per pair range these are worth a listen.
Just as an aside, I did ask the warden to close her eyes and listen to a number of passages and her comment was, "these kind of smear the sound where as the other ones you could tell where everything was". The other ones she is referring to are the JBL studio monitors.
The NHT classic 3's are shipping out today or tomorrow so soon I should be able to compare the HTD's to speakers that are twice the price.
This should be interesting, I wonder if they will be twice as good?

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post #16 of 43 Old 01-31-2007, 07:44 PM
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The warden has good ears.

IMO, the Classic 3's are much better.

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post #17 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

The warden has good ears.

IMO, the Classic 3's are much better.

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post #18 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 10:19 AM
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I agree that the level 3's perform much better at higher volumes. They are also pretty inefficient. I have owned them for about 1 week. They are not at all in your face yet detailed enough. I usually like the sound of B&W speakers, but I am starting to like these. Not sure if I am going to return them and go with swan diva's or not yet. When cranked up they perform very well though. A little recessed at low volumes.
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post #19 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 10:38 AM
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I'd add the HSU HB-1 to your audition list.
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post #20 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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what is an hb 1?

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post #21 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone215 View Post

what is an hb 1?

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hb-1.html
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post #22 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone215 View Post

I am trying to keep it at or below 300 each speaker as 6 x 300 = 1800 bucks. Considering the system already sounds good, I need to justify the cost with the sound improvement. One thing I have now is lots of headroom, efficiency, and low distortion and low compression. Hey, nowhere to go but up right?

That doesn't include the next dilema, the sub upgrades.

ciao

Onix Ref 1s are currently on sale for $599/pair. They are about the same size as other speakers on your list.
http://www.**********/products_produc...s&product=23.1

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post #23 of 43 Old 02-01-2007, 08:29 PM
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Totally uneducated opinion here, as I have never heard any HTD products, but it seems like they may be using the ID model a bit differently than we often discuss here. They seem to do great on service, and their web site and interface with customer is very well done. They also appear to spend a good amount of money on cabinets/style. Pix I've seen look way better than most speakers at comparable prices. But, it seems they may be just putting together OK speakers in regard to sound. If that is true it is a somewhat novel approach, as I think we often assume that ID companies are most concerned about sound.

Like I said, just an uneducated opinion based on reading a lot of posts about this company.
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post #24 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 01:32 PM
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Totally uneducated opinion here, as I have never heard any HTD products, but it seems like they may be using the ID model a bit differently than we often discuss here. They seem to do great on service, and their web site and interface with customer is very well done. They also appear to spend a good amount of money on cabinets/style. Pix I've seen look way better than most speakers at comparable prices. But, it seems they may be just putting together OK speakers in regard to sound. If that is true it is a somewhat novel approach, as I think we often assume that ID companies are most concerned about sound.

Like I said, just an uneducated opinion based on reading a lot of posts about this company.

Their speakers aren't as highly acclaimed as some other ID brands but we have no way of knowing their approach and intentions as a whole. Are they intent on releasing OK speakers or are they a maturing company who's not quite there yet? I think they are on the right track though. Although Luis changes his mind on the Level 3 Towers later on, http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&highlight=HTD, he was initially quite impressed with the HTDs. His opinion of them didnt change from great to terrible but rather he got spoiled by the Strata Mini's and started enjoying a different sound. I think if you ask him, he's still think the Level 3 are darn good speakers. and although many ID brands are good that doesnt necessarily mean all ID brands are good and strive for the same thing.
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post #25 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 02:06 PM
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I still like the Towers even though they have tough competition at that price range that I havent been able to compare them to.
The centers are the one that I cant really enjoy anymore as forcing the tweeter and woofer to blend created a sort of distortion that I can hear in some instruments specially cymbals that becomes annoying. Then again, I didnt notice that before getting use to cleaner speakers.

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post #26 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 04:04 PM
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I'm still waiting on my x-ls pair and I will be comparing the L3s with them and probably a few others. All I can say is so far the L3s work really well for HT. I think a lot of people here are primarily music application, and my review will be focusing on films. How do they compare with gunshots, voices, footsteps, sirens, etc.

I would love to see the x-ls beat them out because they are 25% cheaper. Hopefully av123 will start shipping soon, I understand there is a shortage of tweeters.
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post #27 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 04:46 PM
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A couple of things...

Placing them on TOP of the current speakers so the tweeters are above ear level will most likely affect the sound. At the very least, put something under the backs of them so they aim down a bit. That could potentially make a big difference.


And on using REW to measure the speakers' response, you have to have a good/calibrated mic. The regular RS SPL meters are no good above 4~5KHz, and how far they are "off" is almost random.
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post #28 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 07:18 PM
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OK, cyberbri, thanks for the tip. I have good gear for measurements. I'm not an expert but not a novice either. I'll probably place the speakers side by side and I'm going to try and do some unsighted listening. Kind of depends on how much time I get and if I have suitable volunteer listeners. Feel free to PM me if there's anything special you want me to try.
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post #29 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 07:56 PM
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I second the inclusion of the HB-1's from Hsu and would add the SBS-01's from SVS.

I am hoping to do a competition w/in 60 days, this thread.
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post #30 of 43 Old 02-02-2007, 09:26 PM
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Yea one problem with HTD, and indeed most speaker companies, is the less attention they put to their center speaker.

The center is a tougher engineering challenge than all the other speakers combined, so I tend to respect the companies with the killer centers

Also, a timbre-matching dipole is a always a bonus to a line-up. Even if you dont want a pair now, eventually you might.
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