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post #301 of 6914 Old 10-28-2007, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

No, they were just terrible. I had a good buddy of mine and my brother join me for the trip; they both agreed that the MA Gold's were awful. Something unusual is amidst at the large A/V shop. They even stopped carrying other more "audiophile" grade brands. Weird...


Nuance -

I can't even imagine what could be done to the front-end and the wiring to make the MA speakers sound that bad. None of the qualities you described line-up with my or many others' impressions of the GS speakers. Hopefully you can find some place else to listen to them. But I don't blame you for liking the Paradigms. I choose the Paradigm Signature speakers over many other high-end brands and lived with them happily for about two years. To my ears, the GS60's take everything I liked about the Paradigms and adds better clarity and detail.

Good luck,

- Tim
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post #302 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 06:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CLS View Post

Nuance,

Could have been the switcher or the cables used that is way too long. If you could try and connect them directly or bring along your favorite cables & IC's and try again. I agree with Hifisponge and preferred the Monitor audio over the Paradigms.

Other speakers not mentioned and worth listening: Elac, PMC, and ASW.
My personal preferences are the Dyn s1.4s & C1s, AP Scorpio and Lynn Espek.

Have a safe journey and lots of fun

Thanks for the suggestions, CLS. I know there was something wrong but I didn't stick around to find out what. The store was about to close, so I just left in dismay. I would like to return and investigate, but I once got yelled at for changing some settings on a Denon receiver at that store (I turned off the subwoofer and set the fronts to large), so I doubt I would get very far. Something was very wrong, but it may just get left at that...
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Originally Posted by hifisponge View Post

Nuance -

I can't even imagine what could be done to the front-end and the wiring to make the MA speakers sound that bad. None of the qualities you described line-up with my or many others' impressions of the GS speakers. Hopefully you can find some place else to listen to them. But I don't blame you for liking the Paradigms. I choose the Paradigm Signature speakers over many other high-end brands and lived with them happily for about two years. To my ears, the GS60's take everything I liked about the Paradigms and adds better clarity and detail.

Good luck,

- Tim

I hear ya pal. This is why I was put into a state of utter awe upon auditioning these speakers. There had to be a connection issue or a faulty piece of equipment because all of the speakers connected to that switcher and that set of gear sounded the same way (All Monitor Audio speakers). Something was amidst...

There is another shop downtown that carries the MA brand, but they never have the Gold series at the store. I would have to special order a pair in order to audition them. But if I don't want to buy them I would feel horrible for ordering a brand new pair. I'll see what I can do, though.

So, has anyone compared the Rocket 850's to the Paradigm Studio 60's or 100's?

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post #303 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman
However, I did like the Paradigm Studio and Sigs much better overall than the Rocket speakers I heard recently before choosing to get some Studio 100's. The Rockets remind me of Thiel speakers: Metallic and bracing comes to mind... the Vifa tweeter is good and extended without breakup with great imaging, but the aluminum drivers made a negative impact to the balance, especially for vocals. Not comfortable over long term listening IMHO. Bass was a bit tighter and lower on the Rocket 850's than the Studio 100's, but even the 850's benefited from augmentation by a sealed music sub like the 10" Rocket.

Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman
I'm saying the Studio v.4's are more in line with the Rockets. This is where I feel the treble/mid is superior on the Studio 100's vs. the Rocket RS-850's.

Voices and instruments liked plucked strings, pianos, and guitars sounded almost spookily real on the Studios (or at least had a better approximation to the recording). The RS-850's had a metallic coloration and sibilance. Dialog sounded like it was slightly hollow as if missing some weight or mid-bass presence. Cutting to my ears after a while. It was like the upper octaves were pushed too high up the ladder whereas the Paradigm's were just right. And this was listening to both in direct mode without processing engaged.

The Rocket bigfoot center is described as big and it is, but the Studio CC-690 is even bigger and more like a Studio 100 laid on its side! The CC-690, for a horizontal speaker, was not congested/nasally or boxy sounding (a rare treat for a so-called center speaker), but again more like a 100 tipped over. This helps in creating a seamless soundstage for movie effects panning/dialog panning and surround music recordings.

That said, if you need to fill a large living room or dedicated theater and you don't mind investing more, the Signature v.2 line was that much better to my ears. The drivers and cabinets are more robust and can handle the volume increase better, and the bass was more pronounced and solid. It would have to be for the price increase!

Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman
The Studio's and Signature's (new versions) IMHO are sonically more realistic and neutral/clearer than the much touted av123 Rocket line; the latter was way too treble-heavy and slightly sibilant due to the metal drivers... though if you didn't audition other speakers as well then the Rockets, to the lay person, would seem very good (and they aren't a bad speaker by any means). I've demoed both and bought the Paradigms. Well recorded piano music was just awesome on both Studio and Signature lines, and when I got my Studio 100's home I played some Legends of Jazz on Blu-ray and I could swear the jazz pianist, Dave Bruebeck was playing in the living room it was so realistically reproduced.

Originally Posted by Henry Lambert
I compared the studio 100's to the Rocket 850's. I had them side by side in my home for one week. In my opinion the Rockets were a much better speaker. They outperformed the paradigms by a long shot. They were clearly better across the entire audio spectrum. This was not what I was expecting or hoping for. Up here in Canada the Paradigm system would have been much cheaper.
The only way to find out is to give both a try yourself. I can't hear with your ears and the above statements were based on what my ears told me.
To expand on this point my best friend thought I was nuts. He liked the paradigms much better.
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post #304 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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haha, just what I thought; indifferent. Well, I will have a pair of Rocket 850's headed my way soon. I will write a review for those as well.

I am curious, did Dan Hitchman listen to the older 850's or the newer 850 Signature's? The older ones were said to be too bright, especially in the midrange. The new Danny Richie crossover is suppose to have worked wonders with that speaker.

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post #305 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 08:10 AM
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Don't know if Dan listened to the old or the new 850's. Sorry, just did a quick search for you.

BTW - I should mention that you are not the only one that has had a bad experience with good speakers (refering to your experience with the GS's). When I was auditioning the GS's I compared them in my home to the new Paradigm Signature V.2 line. The V.2's have the new Beryllium tweeter and an aluminum midrange instead of the old poly cone. I was really excited to hear what the new drivers were capable of, especially the Be tweeter. Much to my dismay, the new Sigs, at least the pair I was loaned, sounded really dark and veiled. I had to stick my ear right up next to the tweeter to check if it was even working. I'm almost certain that the pair I was given was defective and I have since read reviews that say this speaker does in fact have a sparkling top end. I was torn as to what to do, because I really wanted to give the Paradigms a fair shake (as a former Paradigm owner). But I knew that the dealer I got them from would have no interest in correcting the matter. Paradigm is their entry-level brand and frankly they would rather deal with the guys buying Wilson Watt Doggies and B & Trouble-U.
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post #306 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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^

What you said reminded me of something. While I was listening to the Studio 100's this weekend the owner of the shop pulled the banana plugs from the jack/switch panel from the wall and plug in the newer V4 studio 40's. There was a large difference in sound quality, one that I didn't like. I only listened for about 30 seconds, but the difference was not subtle. Sure, they lacked the bass that the 100's provided, but the mids really sounded different. I'll have to return and give them a listen. I guess there is a huge difference between the v3's and v4's, not to mention the Reference v1's and v2's. I wonder why they would do that? Weren't their V3 speakers critically acclaimed?

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post #307 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 10:33 AM
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Came across Selah Audio's Line Array page and their thoughts:

http://selahaudio.com/id73.html

-curtis

Owner of Wave Crest Audio
Volunteer Mod at the Ascend Acoustics Forum
Like all things on the Internet, do your research, as forums have a good amount of misinformation.
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post #308 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

^

What you said reminded me of something. While I was listening to the Studio 100's this weekend the owner of the shop pulled the banana plugs from the jack/switch panel from the wall and plug in the newer V4 studio 40's. There was a large difference in sound quality, one that I didn't like. I only listened for about 30 seconds, but the difference was not subtle. Sure, they lacked the bass that the 100's provided, but the mids really sounded different. I'll have to return and give them a listen. I guess there is a huge difference between the v3's and v4's, not to mention the Reference v1's and v2's. I wonder why they would do that? Weren't their V3 speakers critically acclaimed?

So were the Paradigm's that you listened to and liked the Studio V.3 or the V.4 with the new metal midrange? If I understand what you are saying, you were listening to and liked the Studio 100 V.3, then they connected the Studio 40 V.4's and you didn't like those?
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post #309 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

It seems to me that most music is point source, with some unique combinations of monopole or dipole or bipole kind of radiation pattern. Of course, we're really mainly hearing a lot of resonances, the very things we supposedly try to avoid the speaker adding.

Speakers with uniform polar radiation sound most natural. Dipoles (4.8dB lower reverberant field for a given on-axis SPL) retain clarity farther into the room. I'd like to hear some modern wave guides (Earl Geddes) with more directivity and see how the trend continues.

Planar speakers are too big to be true dipoles. Conventional speakers are too small to have sound only coming out the front and too big to be monopoles.

I'd like to hear a line array but worry about what would happen to the power response at higher frequencies.
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post #310 of 6914 Old 10-29-2007, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

Speakers with uniform polar radiation sound most natural. Dipoles (4.8dB lower reverberant field for a given on-axis SPL) retain clarity farther into the room.

Depends on the room. Dipoles muddy up *really* fast in a narrow room. I like to put them on a wall that's at least 18' or more wide. Then they can sound really great. They also seem to prefer a taller ceiling for some reason. Just what my ears report.
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I'd like to hear some modern wave guides (Earl Geddes) with more directivity and see how the trend continues.

I've heard some newer designs and still don't like them. They just don't sound natural to me.
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Planar speakers are too big to be true dipoles. Conventional speakers are too small to have sound only coming out the front and too big to be monopoles.

I'm not sure what you mean Drew ^ Can you explain?
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I'd like to hear a line array but worry about what would happen to the power response at higher frequencies.

How so? I don't see any real problems here, except for that line arrays don't really do it for me in less than a very large room. I'm sure you could fix any power response issues, but not sure what was concerning you there.

John
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post #311 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hifisponge View Post

So were the Paradigm's that you listened to and liked the Studio V.3 or the V.4 with the new metal midrange? If I understand what you are saying, you were listening to and liked the Studio 100 V.3, then they connected the Studio 40 V.4's and you didn't like those?

Yes, you've got it right. But like I said, it was for like 30-60 seconds max. But yes, they sounded very different to my ears; much preferred the V.3's.

I have been researching the Monitor Audio Gold series a lot since Saturday's disappointment. Either hundreds of people and many reviewers like crappy speakers, or something was seriously wrong with the setup at that shop (I think we all know it's the latter). I don't like knocking anyone or anything, but this shop really needs to get their act in gear. Due to this I am going to reveal the name of the store and ask that if you live in the area that you take heed to my warning.

The store is called Flanner's Home Entertainment (previously called Flanner's Audio and Video). It is by far the largest A/V store in the Milwaukee metro area, perhaps even all of Wisconsin. It's a mini Best Buy that caters to only A/V and is located in Brookfield, WI on Bluemound road. If someone from this board works at Flanner's, please don't take this as a personal attack. Rather see it as a disappointed customer who wants to see these issues resolved. I have visited Flanner's a few times a year since my early college years and this was the first horrible experience I had. It's time to treat the rooms, ideally position the speakers and verify that nothing is flawing the audio signal.

Anyway, I hope to hit a shop downtown called Ultra Fidelis this weekend. They carry more speakers than any shop in the metro area (Vandersteen, Monitor Audio, ProAc, Vienna Acoustics, Sonus Faber, Speaker Craft and Linn). They are also distributors of Parasound, Halo, Integra, YBA and Audio Research (amps, pre-amps and receivers). Very cool (I'm excited)! I hope they have the MA Gold's on the showroom floor.

Curtis, thanks for the link on Line Array speakers. I have never heard of Sela Audio, but it was some useful info nonetheless.

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post #312 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 08:15 AM
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Brandon - anyone on this list that can help you hear NHT Fours. If you like the Studio 100s....... http://nhthifi.com/2006/dealers/WI.html

John
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post #313 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

Brandon - anyone on this list that can help you hear NHT Fours. If you like the Studio 100s....... http://nhthifi.com/2006/dealers/WI.html

Holy crap...Sound Designs is somewhere in Mequon? That's where I live! I'll have to drive down Donges Bay and find this place, because I have never seen it before. That would be awesome if they Carried the NHT Classic Fours (classic is the model, right??).

John, thanks for the info!

Edit: I just called them and got directions...they are at the very end of that road. HA!

Anyway, they don't have the Classic Four's on the showroom floor, but they have the Three's. What do you think, John? Is there a large sonic difference (besides the lower extension)? Can I get a good feel of what the Four's will do by listening to the Three's? Man...I wish they had the Four's because bass reproduction is a huge part of what I am looking for (for two-channel).

Have you compared the Studio 100's V3's to the Classic Fours, John? If so, how do they compare in the lower regions?

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post #314 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Anyway, they don't have the Classic Four's on the showroom floor, but they have the Three's. What do you think, John? Is there a large sonic difference (besides the lower extension)? Can I get a good feel of what the Four's will do by listening to the Three's? Man...I wish they had the Four's because bass reproduction is a huge part of what I am looking for (for two-channel).

The Three doesn't quite have the midrange of the Four, but it gives you a good idea of the type of sound as the mid/treble domes are the same. The Four has more of a true 6" midrange vs the 6" midbass on the Three. The tonal balance of the Threes doesn't always draw you in just because it feels a little sterile without the bass. But the Fours have that and sound really great to most people. The reaction is usually about 75-80% "these are as good as the best, most expensive tower speakers I've ever heard" or 20-25% "Eh". If you want to hear what a Three does, play lots of acoustic stuff, piano, guitar, jazz, etc, at least to start. With the Fours though, you can put on darn near anything and they sound balanced. Or have them add a really good sub.
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Have you compared the Studio 100's V3's to the Classic Fours, John? If so, how do they compare in the lower regions?

I haven't compared these directly. I have compared to the V2s to NHT's discontinued $1000 ST4 3-ways. They were about the same overall quality, but the V2s had more upper midrange/treble presence and better midbass and slightly better imaging. The ST4s have a warmer, richer, but less present midrange, smoother treble, deeper bass. But the Four is dramatically better than the ST4, so I think it would do very well against the v3 (or even v4). Bass is deeper than the Paradigm and I'd say they have notably better midrange resolution unless Paradigm has really upped their game. I have compared Fours to PSB's Platinum T8 at $7000/pr and while the PSBs do some things better, I still prefer the Fours. I have both sets in my bedroom, actually, but prefer listening to the Fours. They're that good. I have always asserted that they were as good as the B&W 802D, and there's a guy that just switched from 802Ds *to* the Fours, if you can believe that one. BUT, they just has a certain type (or lack) of sound that has to appeal to you. Otherwise, you'll just scratch your head and wonder what I'm going on about

John
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post #315 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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The Three doesn't quite have the midrange of the Four, but it gives you a good idea of the type of sound as the mid/treble domes are the same. The Four has more of a true 6" midrange vs the 6" midbass on the Three. The tonal balance of the Threes doesn't always draw you in just because it feels a little sterile without the bass. But the Fours have that and sound really great to most people. The reaction is usually about 75-80% "these are as good as the best, most expensive tower speakers I've ever heard" or 20-25% "Eh". If you want to hear what a Three does, play lots of acoustic stuff, piano, guitar, jazz, etc, at least to start. With the Fours though, you can put on darn near anything and they sound balanced. Or have them add a really good sub.

I haven't compared these directly. I have compared to the V2s to NHT's discontinued $1000 ST4 3-ways. They were about the same overall quality, but the V2s had more upper midrange/treble presence and better midbass and slightly better imaging. The ST4s have a warmer, richer, but less present midrange, smoother treble, deeper bass. But the Four is dramatically better than the ST4, so I think it would do very well against the v3 (or even v4). Bass is deeper than the Paradigm and I'd say they have notably better midrange resolution unless Paradigm has really upped their game. I have compared Fours to PSB's Platinum T8 at $7000/pr and while the PSBs do some things better, I still prefer the Fours. I have both sets in my bedroom, actually, but prefer listening to the Fours. They're that good. I have always asserted that they were as good as the B&W 802D, and there's a guy that just switched from 802Ds *to* the Fours, if you can believe that one. BUT, they just has a certain type (or lack) of sound that has to appeal to you. Otherwise, you'll just scratch your head and wonder what I'm going on about

Wow, a precise and quick response; I like it!

I am definitely going to hit the shop this week to give the NHT Classic Three's a listen. Perhaps they can add a subwoofer to them to give me an idea of how the Four's will sound. If so, what is your recommended crossover point, John?

I'll take a custom audition CD with some sliced together tracks compiled with acoustic guitar, piano and orchestral pieces...and maybe some jazz. My favorite two instruments are the guitar and the piano, so hopefully the Three's do them justice. But just out of curiosity, how will the Three's (and more importantly the Four's) handle rock music? I go between Rock (Dream Theater) and Orchestral/Piano music often. The Paradigms could really rock out and were pretty decent with piano and strings as well.

So you actually like a sub $2000 pair of speakers better than the PSB's? Wow! They certainly win in the looks department (NHT), though.

Oh, and is it necessary to use the X2 Crossover and A1 Amplifiers with the Four's?

Thanks.

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post #316 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Wow, a precise and quick response; I like it!

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I am definitely going to hit the shop this week to give the NHT Classic Three's a listen. Perhaps they can add a subwoofer to them to give me an idea of how the Four's will sound. If so, what is your recommended crossover point, John?

80-100Hz, depending on the sub, sub location, desired output, etc.
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I'll take a custom audition CD with some sliced together tracks compiled with acoustic guitar, piano and orchestral pieces...and maybe some jazz. My favorite two instruments are the guitar and the piano, so hopefully the Three's do them justice. But just out of curiosity, how will the Three's (and more importantly the Four's) handle rock music? I go between Rock (Dream Theater) and Orchestral/Piano music often. The Paradigms could really rock out and were pretty decent with piano and strings as well.

The Fours can be a little forward with stuff like Dream Theater, but I don't think they'd be as forward as the Paradigms. I like stuff like Tool, Perfect Circle, Porcupine Tree (if you like DT, you'll *love* PT - best unknown band on the planet, IMO) and occasionally, I'll hear a touch of forwardness that doesn't exist on the more expensive Xds. It's really not a big deal, but it just goes to show that nothing is perfect. BUT, they play loud and deep and do it with very little strain or distortion.
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So you actually like a sub $2000 pair of speakers better than the PSB's?

There are very few speakers I like as well or better than Fours. However, there are people that love a more forward, bigger, more intense sound and the T8s and other speakers deliver that better. I think the Fours have less cone resonance and track the midrange/treble better than all but the very best 3-way speakers.
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Oh, and is it necessary to use the X2 Crossover and A1 Amplifiers with the Four's?

No. I recommend against that because while it can help, it's too much money for too little benefit. Besides, at that point, you just buy the X1/A1 and W1 or W2 subs with the Threes and you end up with even better bass performance in depth/accuracy/precision.

John
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post #317 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post


The Fours can be a little forward with stuff like Dream Theater, but I don't think they'd be as forward as the Paradigms. I like stuff like Tool, Perfect Circle, Porcupine Tree (if you like DT, you'll *love* PT - best unknown band on the planet, IMO) and occasionally, I'll hear a touch of forwardness that doesn't exist on the more expensive Xds. It's really not a big deal, but it just goes to show that nothing is perfect. BUT, they play loud and deep and do it with very little strain or distortion.

Wow, you have great taste in music . I too listen to Tool, but I was a little disappointed with their last album. It was just...blah, for lack of a better word. It just didn't flow like Lateralus or Einema.

It's funny that you mentioned Porcupine Tree; I was just reading a review of "Fear Of A Blank Planet," which got a whopping 91/100 - nice! I am planning a downloading a few samples and determining if the album is worth purchasing.

Anyway, I didn't think the dimgs were too forward with Dream Theater (I used clips from the Awake and Images and Words album for my rock audition CD), so I am sure the NHT's will be cool.

Speaking of "cool," I read a review that characterized the Four's as being "Cool" or somewhat mechanical sounding. What are you thoughts on this?

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Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

There are very few speakers I like as well or better than Fours. However, there are people that love a more forward, bigger, more intense sound and the T8s and other speakers deliver that better. I think the Fours have less cone resonance and track the midrange/treble better than all but the very best 3-way speakers.

I don't like a "more forward" sound; I like neutral. The NHT Four's measure well except the bass hump, but measurements don't a good speaker make, plus so many speakers have that "hump" now a days. I am sure I can flatten it out a bit with some parametric EQ.

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No. I recommend against that because while it can help, it's too much money for too little benefit. Besides, at that point, you just buy the X1/A1 and W1 or W2 subs with the Threes and you end up with even better bass performance in depth/accuracy/precision.

Good to know, cause I didn't really want to go that route. Thanks a lot, John!

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post #318 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 10:30 AM
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The Fours can sound "cool" because they have so little of that typical 6" midrange cone coloration. They're very clean, very precise, very focused. Of course, you do hear a touch of metal sound from the drivers, but it's very slight compared to what you'd hear with a 6" cone in a 3-way. So I'm not sure if "cool" comes from the lack of cone sound or from the touch of sound you get from any metal driver.

John
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post #319 of 6914 Old 10-30-2007, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, John. I am not too worried - will just let my ears make the decision.

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post #320 of 6914 Old 10-31-2007, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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It has been confirmed that I will be taking a road trip to Craig(sub)'s place the weekend of November 9th. Craig will soon be holding another blind, level matched speaker shootout/GTG at his home and I will partake in this, but my participation will be pre-GTG; kind of a mini-GTG between Craig, a good friend of mine with a good ear, my brother and myself. The methodology will be the exact same as we will be listening under blind and level matched conditions (woohoo; gonna be fun).

With that said, I'll be listening to these speakers (click the link).

I will be taking notes (as will my brother and pal, Justin) and we will all hopefully post our results here in this thread and Craig's GTG thread (Craig is running the show, so we'll post our impressions as necessary when he prefers us to, as not to effect any results or the overall tally of scores).

This "journey" just keeps getting better! Thank you Craig for helping me along my journey and for hooking me up with a setup that will keep my appetite under control until I one day find that one "perfect" speaker (whenever that may be).

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post #321 of 6914 Old 11-02-2007, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Tomorrow will begin phase III of my listening experiences, probably being my biggest day thus far; I will be heading to Ultra Fidelis in downtown Milwaukee. They carry a huge variety of speakers and electronics, or so the website says anyway. Due to this I am very excited and will be taking my brother and good friend with me (both of whom will be joining me for a road trip to Craig(sub)'s home next weekend).

Do check out Ultra Fidelis' website if you have time. For those of you that do, if you wouldn't mind please share your experiences with the listed models of speakers that they carry. By now I think you all are starting to get a feel for what I am looking for, so maybe you could steer me in the right direction, or even away from another. There are a bunch of speaker brands at that store, so I am researching brands and trying to narrow it down to a few; any help you guys can give me concerning this would be most appreciated.

Thanks all!

P.S. John, I will be listening to some NHT's this weekend as well if everything goes as planned. It's gonna be a heck of a Saturday!

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post #322 of 6914 Old 11-02-2007, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

P.S. John, I will be listening to some NHT's this weekend as well if everything goes as planned. It's gonna be a heck of a Saturday!

Cool! I a/bed the Fours with B&W 802Ds last night for a few hours and I have to say, I don't think you could tell either was better than the other blind folded. 802Ds are the best B&Ws I've ever heard and the Fours were right with them, beating them in some ways, barely getting beaten in others.

John
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post #323 of 6914 Old 11-02-2007, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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That's very impressive, John. I hope to be wowed by the NHT sound just as you are.

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post #324 of 6914 Old 11-04-2007, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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I spent almost three hours at Ultra Fidelis yesterday and was very happy with what I heard. I have a Packer get together to get read for, but I will list what I had a chance to listen to and will review each speaker later:

Vienna Acoustic Schonberg
Vandersteen 2CE Signature II
Vandersteen Quatro
Sonus Faber Concerto Domus
Vandersteen 5A

This shop has many more speaker likes that I didn't get a chance to spend time with, so I'll have to return at some point to complete my experience at this shop.

All right, game time in 40! Go Pack Go!

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post #325 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 10:32 AM
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I was there as well and was very impressed with what I heard. For the price the Vandersteen 2CE Sig II's seem amazing. A comparison between these and some ID speakers would be very interesting.
And awesome Packer game...
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post #326 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

The Fours can sound "cool" because they have so little of that typical 6" midrange cone coloration. They're very clean, very precise, very focused. Of course, you do hear a touch of metal sound from the drivers, but it's very slight compared to what you'd hear with a 6" cone in a 3-way. So I'm not sure if "cool" comes from the lack of cone sound or from the touch of sound you get from any metal driver.


What other speakers do you recommend besides fours? Really i can see if you are on a budget but i dont think they are high end at all by design. Seemingly cheap tweeters, cheap cabinets-not real wood, who knows about the crossovers quality. Subwoofers actually built in, takes away the thought of adding a real subwoofer and having it blend in with the built in subwoofers. A nice euro driver only thing going for it imo. Add a cheap foreign tweeter and you have nht
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post #327 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 05:14 PM
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What other speakers do you recommend besides fours? Really i can see if you are on a budget but i dont think they are high end at all by design. Seemingly cheap tweeters, cheap cabinets-not real wood, who knows about the crossovers quality. Subwoofers actually built in, takes away the thought of adding a real subwoofer and having it blend in with the built in subwoofers. A nice euro driver only thing going for it imo. Add a cheap foreign tweeter and you have nht

Are you serious?!? I assume not, but if they're not "high-end by design", there ain't much out there that qualifies. I hate to say it, but nearly all tweeters are "cheap". What speakers are actually made of "real wood"? Essentially none, because it resonates too much. NHT uses the same type of MDF you'll find on speakers that cost 10 or 20 times as much. If you're talking about the finish, well, I guess that makes a lot of $10K and up speakers low end too because many of those also use piano black finish. Those Steinways? Pretty low end. As for the sub, that's supposed to *replace* the sub for the target audience and does it quite well. Are you saying that a high-end speaker doesn't reproduce bass? I ran these up against B&W 802Ds at 6 times the price the other day and they went toe to toe with them, no problem. Actually a bit deeper bass and more midrange resolution, for those that prefer that.

As far as *more expensive* speakers I recommend with more accuracy, resolution, focus, refinement? NHT Xd, Revel Studio 2, Joseph Audio Black Pearls, Vivid Audio. But the Fours do a reasonably good emulation of this type of product for a ridiculously low amount of money. I don't know of too many speakers that can do that. There are other types of sounds, like the Euro sound or the Canadian sound or the soft dome/poly midrange/ported sound or the horn sound that these *don't* do, but if you *love* Revels or Xd or Joseph Audio or things of that nature and can't afford them, you'll at least *like* the Fours.

John
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post #328 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 05:36 PM
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The fours have a unfair advantage in the bass because they use subwoofers. But dont dodge the real question, are there any speakers better than nht in your opinion under 3k say? Seems like that all you rave about.. I would bet canton karots with the same design are superior in quality..100% german parts. Not euro driver, tawain tweeter, questionable crossover parts quality. Nht is not a speaker company, just a speaker builder.. Mine as well diy at that point, or just by the real deal 100% euro speakers.
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post #329 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Update Number 3

This weekend I visited a local A/V shop called Ultra Fidelis located in downtown Milwaukee; the shop with the largest selection of speakers, preamps and power amps in the metro area. Along with me came a good friend of mine (Justin) and my brother, both whom will be accompanying me on my road trip to Craig(sub)'s home next weekend and both of whom have a very good ear for sound.

Before we left for the shop we grabbed our new audition CD previously created a few weeks ago; a CD created by picking out a few of our favorite tracks, narrowing down those tracks to between 30 and 90 seconds of our favorite parts and then creating a medley which clocked in at just under 20 minutes. The medley included everything from hard rock to vocal heavy music to jazzy blues - a good test of the capable dynamics of a speaker. This was the CD used for the remainder of the day.

When we arrived we were greeted by the friendliest salesman I have ever experienced, one whom entertained us for the next 2.5 hours and never gave us the impression that he had had enough and wanted us to leave. We briefly explained we were on a mission to find the best speaker available within reason and would not stop until that mission was completed. He got a delighted look on his face because he knew that we had no real budget and that we were going to be able to listen to a wide variety of equipment.

We started off (at the salesman's request, not mine) with the Vandersteen 2CE Signature II's. This was cool with me since I was most familiar with the Vandersteen sound (due to having spent much time with the old 2CE Sigs) and because they were at the bottom of the price tree.

Vandersteen 2CE Signature II


The 2CE Signature II now shares the midrange and tweeter with the model up, the Model 3A Signature. In lieu of this, this is a killer speaker, especially for the money (retail is around $2200 with the stands). It's not pretty to the naked eye at all, but that just ceases to matter once you hear the music brought forth by it. It's a speaker that is very transparent, has a very large soundstage and easily disappears into the listening room. It's definitely more refined than the 2CE Signature I was used to. The midrange is lusher, the soundstage is wider and it just sounds more "right." The treble is very extended and revealing but didn't fatigue my ears (nor the other two gents' ears listening with me). That "airiness" was very present as if you were listening to a live performance with the band being right in front of you. I was very impressed to say the least with but one exception: when really cranked, and I do mean really cranked, some compression occurs. For me this would not be an issue as I rarely listen above 82-83dB (in order to save my hearing and not cause permanent hearing loss), but it may be an issue for those who want to listen at reference levels. However, though this is certainly a flaw inherent with any loudspeaker once its limit is found, the 2CE Sig II did handle the compression better than other loudspeakers I have heard. In other words, it didn't completely ruin the experience, which is more than I can say for many other manufacturers, especially in this price range.

Was this speaker perfect? No. Was it close? For me, perhaps. I will say one thing though: this is the kind of loudspeaker that will make or break this hobby for you. What I mean is that if the majority of your listening material is poorly recorded, this speaker may have you wishing you were raised on classical or jazz; some other genre in which the recordings are all generally decent. I know this is how I felt when listening to certain parts of specific tracks (such as Led Zepplin's "Rock and Roll"). These speakers will immediately make apparent a poor recording, and as I mentioned earlier, that could make or break your decision to purchase them. For me, it made me love them even more because the truly well recorded music captivated me, while the poorly recorded material was still enjoyable (thought not nearly as much) without the experience being ruined, which is more than I can say for the Sonus Faber's that I listened to (more on that later).

In summary, the Vandersteen 2CE Signature II is the best speaker I have ever heard for the mere asking price of $2200. And you should know that when I decided to rediscover my passion and restart my journey, I had fully convinced myself there was something better out there (in that price category) than the Vandersteen 2CE's I was so familiar with. If I didn't believe this I would have never re-begun my quest. This is also why I saved Ultra Fidelis for last, knowing that they carried the full Vandersteen line. After all, I wanted to try to find a reference before I listened to the Vandersteen's once again. Unfortunately (or was it), the 2CE Sig II's remained a reference for me for most of Saturday's audition.

Next up was the Vienna Acoustics Schonberg.


This is a very interesting speaker because, as explained by the salesman, they are designed to be placed against the wall. This is certainly a unique design because we have all been taught to keep our speakers at least two feet from the side and back walls, especially if they are rear ported. This is not the case with the Vienna's.

We fired up our second round of the same test material and the results were initially pleasing. The room was a smaller corner room off to edge of the larger main room that contained the Vandersteen's, so naturally the soundstage wasn't as large. In fact, I could easily place where the sound was coming from, but again, the room was very small. One thing that this speaker excels at is acoustic guitar and vocals. The voice sounded fairly natural and flooded the entire front of the soundstage, making the vocals the only part that I couldn't easily place when my eyes were closed. And the acoustic guitar piece that was played sounded just good enough to fool my ears once or twice.

I had an epiphany when listening to these speakers and it was that the designers at Vienna must have had piano on the brain when they engineered this speaker. The keyboards and piano intertwined all throughout our audition CD sounded very natural and lifelike; impressive. I have heard many speakers botch the sound of a piano and it was nice to hear a life-like sound being conveyed. This is more than I can say for the symbols from the drums, however, which sounded a little too laid back for my tastes, though a lively room may help accentuate the high frequencies and give that extra ting. Finally, the bass of the Schonberg was very impressive for such a thin and small speaker, but it sounded a bit bloated and distorted at times which prevented me from hearing all of the background harmonics and quiet nuances of the audition tracks.

All in all, the Schonburg started strong but in the end I couldn't get passed their slightly laid back quality and bloated bass. At this point we switch back to the Vandersteen 2CE Sig II's for comparison and all agreed that the Vandersteen's presentation was more realistic and believable. However, if someone is looking for a smallish sized speaker for a less than averaged sized room and can't be finicky with speaker placement, the Schonburg's may be your speaker. I think they retailed for around $2250 so they definitely won't break the bank. This may also be the speaker of choice to be used in a lively room.

Our third event for the afternoon was the Sonus Faber Concerto Domus speaker.


I had read and heard a lot of positive things about Sonus Faber, so I was eager to get a listen. While the salesman was hooking up the speakers I noticed how nice looking the speaker's finish was. I could see that a lot of time and effort had gone into the cabinetry so I only hoped that they sounded as good as they looked, but unfortunately this was not the case.

When the speakers were fired up we were engaged for about 30 seconds or so before we started talking amongst each other. The words, these sound odd, echoey and hollow were muttered. After more extensive listening (not actually that long at all) it just seemed that something was very wrong. After a few minutes the salesman walked back into the room and I mentioned that they just didn't sound right. He briefly walked near the speakers and seemed to be quickly double checking to be sure he didn't wire them out of phase (he was a very knowledgeable guy and really seemed to know what he was doing, so I doubt this was the case). We all exchanged a few more dismays, one being that the speaker just lumped everything together rather than presenting each instrument separately, and then the salesmen threw on the 2CE Sig II's again for comparison. Sure enough that hollowness was gone and the music just flowed from the soundstage before me.

I have to admit, my (our) experience with the Sonus Faber's was disheartening. My sole purpose in visiting Ultra Fidelis was to find a speaker that could best the Vandersteen sound (or at least match it) while paired with a much more aesthetically pleasing cabinet design (WAF). So far the two speakers that easily sent the Vandersteen's to their grave in the looks department failed miserably during the listening comparison. Having accepted that fate it was time to hear what else Vandersteen offered (a unanimous decision based on how blown away we were by the $2200 offerings).

In the end the Sonus Faber's were the worst sounding speaker of the day, and perhaps the worst value considering the price. Sure they were oh so sweet to look at, but that's not what is important to me (I'm not my wife).

The second to last speaker of the afternoon was the Vandersteen Quatro.


I had previously heard these when they were first released, but the listening environment was less than ideal. I remember being happy with the classic Vandersteen sound, but they didn't wow me. Fortunately my time with them this go around proved to be a better experience, but not as good as I expected.

The Quatros have a much slimmer design than the typical Vandy and would probably be better accepted over the 2 and 1 series speakers in the WAF department. Still, all I could think about was how do they sound? Well, they sounded a lot like the 2CE Sig II's but with better bass response. There was certainly more bass impact, and when in the sweet spot the imaging was a tiny bit better, however the sweet spot was small and proved to be more of an annoyance than anything else. When switching between the three seats (left, right and center) the soundstage collapsed some when sitting anywhere but the latter. It also collapsed some when I stood up. Now I know these speakers are Vandersteen's most finicky concerning setup and implementation, so this may have played a role in what I was hearing, but who knows? Nonetheless they sounded nice, and a bit better than the Model 2's, just not as much as a speaker with a $5000 increase in price should (Edit, this statement only applies to Vandersteen's speaker line. The quatro still bested most speakers in its price range, but made me realize how much of a bargain the Model 2 is). While listening I couldn't help but wonder how comparable a pair of Model 2CE Sig II's would be combined with dual 2Wq subwoofers. I even asked the salesmen that very question and he actually recommended trying it (much to my surprise).

In summary, the Vandersteen Quatro did add that extra bass extension that I craved while listening to the 2CE Sig II's, but everything else was very similar or only slightly better, including the imaging, soundstage, accuracy, realism and dynamics. For the $5000 premium over the Model 2 I expected more. Still, this is an exceptional speaker when compared to what other manufacturers offer in this price range.

Our last speaker of the day was the Vandersteen Model 5A.


Let me tell you, this speaker needs the proper listening environment to really shine, something that was missing the last time I spent time with it. My opinion has completely changed concerning this speaker which I had previously felt was a tad dark. I can now some it up as near sonic perfection.

Upon firing up the beginning of our audition track I was immediately engaged. The snare drum, acoustic guitar, piano and male vocals really stood out due to their realism. The next thing I knew, 20 minutes had gone by and the audition CD was over, this being the first time we had listened all the way through. I recall numerous times looking at my arms to see goose bumps, not to mention having felt the many chills that shivered down my spine. I had never heard anything this realistic, everother than the real live event, of course. This speaker imaged like I had never heard before, no matter if I was standing, sitting directly on axis or 30 degrees off axis. I never lost focus of the presence of each individual instrument, something I cannot say about the previously auditioned speakers. This speaker proved to be well worth its price tag and fully made me understand why it cost $15,000 more than the Model 2 and $10,000 more than the quatro. The soundstage was enormous and easily overwhelming. When I closed my eyes and pointed to where the boundaries extended my fingers where pointing almost straight to my right and left, 90 degrees. What more can be said? Plenty!

The treble extension was as perfect as perfect can be defined for me; airy and detailed but never fatiguing. I had heard things in the upper frequency range that I had never heard before; things I never knew I could actually hear. Symbols and high hats had just the right amount of zing and/or ting. The high frequency had just the right amount of sparkle and pizzazz. I was truly a believer! Wow, what else could go this right?

The midrange was just flawless! Never has any speaker I have ever heard conveyed this much realism. And if you don't believe me, just ask my pal Justin (Shadow Hunter). Near the end of our audition track was a piece that was heavy on the vocals, one of Justin's favorite singers. This piece more than anything knocked my socks off, and I wasn't even familiar with the artist besides what I had heard that vary day coming through the other speakers. I don't know who the artist is (Justin you can answer that question), but it was a blend of very impressive piano, bass and a very talented male singer. This track had us feeling bass that we couldn't hear, discovering nuances that had thus far gone uncovered and had us dropping our jaws in dismay. Never had piano or the male voice disappeared and just existed before me! How could it get any better? Ba ba bass!

The depth that the bass reached while listening to the Model 5A's in two-channel was astounding. I can officially say that a separate subwoofer is completely unnecessary for music and probably even movies. Again, I felt bass that I couldn't even hear - that's just crazy! And this was not bloated, boomy bass; it was very musical, tight and deep but never out of control. And when the signal stopped, all this kick you in the chest bass immediately ceased to exist; astounding! I would love to see the waterfall plot of this bad boy!

In the end, I wish I had never had an in depth audition of the Vandersteen Model 5A. All other speakers I listen to will be compared to this one, a speaker of which I just cannot afford. It is certainly the best speaker I have every had the pleasure to sit down and spend time with, but due to it's $17,000 price tag I cannot officially give it the award for My Perfect Speaker. However, it will certainly be my reference until the day I die or the day I find something better. Is this the best speaker in the world? That's a very subjective question. Does it have the best performance to price ratio of any and all speakers? Doubt it. But is it the best speaker every created that I have had an opportunity to audition? YES! Why do I wish I'd never heard it? Because I'll never own it, so I hope I didn't ruin my journey (because I'll never get that "perfect" sound out of my head).

To conclude, my time spent at Ultra Fidelis was the most fun I have had auditioning speakers sincewell, ever! Although I did not get a chance to hear everything I wanted to, I finally found a reference to compare to. I finally found a speaker that could get down and rock out, seduce me with life-like piano and vocals, convey that airy detailed high frequency extension that I have always craved and manage to be dynamic enough to send ripples of Symphonic sound waves through my body. The only fault I can find with the Vandersteen Model 5A is the price, which is unfortunately a deal killer for me unless something traumatic happens to me or my wife financially. AhhI can still hear James Labrie's soothing whispers fill the room followed by the greatest guitar and keyboard duo known to man Pure audio bliss!


So I guess its back to the drawing board Oh well, a man can dream.

The journey continues

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post #330 of 6914 Old 11-05-2007, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

As far as *more expensive* speakers I recommend with more accuracy, resolution, focus, refinement? NHT Xd, Revel Studio 2, Joseph Audio Black Pearls, Vivid Audio. But the Fours do a reasonably good emulation of this type of product for a ridiculously low amount of money. I don't know of too many speakers that can do that. There are other types of sounds, like the Euro sound or the Canadian sound or the soft dome/poly midrange/ported sound or the horn sound that these *don't* do, but if you *love* Revels or Xd or Joseph Audio or things of that nature and can't afford them, you'll at least *like* the Fours.

That's a very well conveyed paragraph of information. It's shame I didn't get time with NHT on Saturday as the audio contractor never picked up the phone. I will set up an appointment to hear the 3's this week.

Zeus, easy man, I don't want this thread closed because of a fight.

John, perhaps Zeus cannot fathom a $2000 speaker going toe to toe with the B&W 802D's...I dunno. Lets keep it civilized though please.

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