Speakerquest (so far...) - Page 10 - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #271 of 2204 Old 03-10-2008, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Hey Zensei,
I was just thinking... if your dealer would allow you to take the speakers home for an audition, you will know exactly how they sound on your system. Or take your receiver with you next time you go for a listen... Judging by your last post I would have to say that the ProAc's probably have a pretty sweet midrange, that was accentuated by the tubes.

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #272 of 2204 Old 03-10-2008, 11:58 PM
AVS Special Member
 
hifisponge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Redmond, WA
Posts: 7,516
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by funkmonkey View Post

Thanks Tim, you are now officially my Hifi guru!

Sometimes I surprise myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by funkmonkey View Post

by the way, I listened to a pair of Focal Chorus 836 today... I've got another appointment tomorrow morning to listen to the Hawks again, and whatever else I can find in that shop, so I will let you know what I thought in more detail in another post, but for now you can rest assured that I liked them. I didn't love them, but I did like them. I think my issues would be solved with the Be tweeter...

You know, I've always felt that most speaker makers have their sweet spot or specialty, and Focal's passion is for the high-end. They established themselves as a high-end brand and I believe they then created lower lines to tap into more of the market and build more business off of their reputation. Truth is, while the Chorus line is solid, if I were looking for speakers in their price range I would much rather go with a maker who's passion is for making speakers at that price point. I've listened to Focal's lower lines in the past, and they never quite did it for me.

But it's not just the Be tweeter that is special in the Electra's and the Utopia's (although it gets all of the attention). The mid / woofer diaphragms are also very high-tech and of course the crossovers are much better as well. As you would expect by the substantial price difference between the Chorus and the Electra lines, these speakers are leagues apart in sound quality. Even then, I'll be the first to admit that based on sound quality alone, you could probably get very close to the sound of the Electra's for a much lower price if sound quality is your primary objective. You are paying a premium for the beautiful cabinetry and the "made in France" sticker with the Electra's.
hifisponge is offline  
post #273 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 09:39 AM
Member
 
jaw5279's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 100
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Oh come on now, the saga can't end here....just as our hero Funkmonkey was about to re-audition the Hawks with his newly burned cd of demo material. That would be too cruel to those of us living vicariously through his search for the holy grail of speakers in the two thousand (no three thousand....no five thousand....no back to two maybe three thousand dollar) or less price range.

Here's hoping to hear the happy ending where Funkmonkey and his new speakers live happily ever after (or at least for a long while)

John
jaw5279 is offline  
post #274 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaw5279 View Post

... holy grail of speakers in the two thousand (no three thousand....no five thousand....no back to two maybe three thousand dollar) or less price range.

Here's hoping to hear the happy ending where Funkmonkey and his new speakers live happily ever after (or at least for a long while)

LOL. Very funny, and all too true... I haven't decided on anything yet (of course) Thanks for the hoping for a happy ending! some people have said they hope I never find what I want.. I've got a couple of more things to write up today, so it's not over just yet...

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #275 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 03:21 PM
Member
 
jaw5279's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 100
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by funkmonkey View Post

LOL. Very funny, and all too true... I haven't decided on anything yet (of course) Thanks for the hoping for a happy ending! some people have said they hope I never find what I want.. I've got a couple of more things to write up today, so it's not over just yet...

Seriously, your efforts have rejuvenated my long dorment interest in searching out "musical" speakers to the point where I am tracking down places to audition some of the same you have commented on. I am very interested in your comments about the re-listen on the Totem Hawks.

John
jaw5279 is offline  
post #276 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
In case you guys aren't familiar with the music I have been using during my auditions I thought I should dedicate a post (or three) to it... Some stuff I have used only once or twice, others I have used to death because, for me, that song reveals a particular quality of the speakers sound. If you've read through my reviews I am sure some of these will be familiar names....

Leon Parker:
Above & Below

and
Belief

Don't remember what tracks I used, they are all good examples for percussion and drums, along with standard jazz instrumentation. Some exotic percussion here too and good quality recordings.


Aretha Franklin:
Soul 69

Incredible vocals, my grandma was a huge fan of hers so I heard this a lot while I was a child, and now I still love this music. Not a good one to test speakers, though, old recording was apparent, only used it once, at the very beginning.


Fu Manchu:
California Crossing

These guys ROCK. If you like old Black Sabbath, and heavy stoner rock, Fu Manchu delivers. They have many albums out, but this is my favorite. Full-on assault of sound makes weaker speakers distort and lose detail in the mids-lows. Recording quality is pretty good, though not perfect.


DJ Krush:
Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best

Brilliant atmospherics, down beat electronica with a deep groove and leans toward hip-hop sensibilities. Great test for imaging, and expansiveness of sound. One of my favorite artists.


Red Snapper:
Red Snapper

and
Making Bones

Similar to DJ Krush in atmospherics, but these guys also use a live band that features an upright acoustic bass as the foundation for much of their sound.


Grant Green:
Idle Moments

Earlier recording from Grant Green, straight forward Jazz, pre-funk era. Guitar, sax, piano, drums, acoustic bass, trumpet... nice recording, they did a good job on the re-master but OG tape hiss is still there.


Dave Brubeck:
Time Out

I have an older pressing of this CD and the recording is obviously old, great music but not the best choice to test speakers.


Erykah Badu:
Baduizm

The more I hear her voice the more I love this woman. Awesome album start to finish, huge range of sound. Exceptionally deep bass (esp. on track 1) Lush and sexy vocals, tight production. Excellent test for speakers, excellent album.

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #277 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
The Beatles:
Abbey Road

Single most influential album of my life, given as a birthday present by my Uncle when I was 8 or so, my very first LP. I loved it then, I worship it now. There are so many layers going on here and so much detail that it is not surprising to hear something new every time I listen to it. Paul's bass playing has never been better than right here. This album refined all their earlier experiments with sound, and what was possible in a modern studio. Production quality is immense. A classic, in every sense of the word. I've said it before and I will say it again... If this doesn't sound good on a pair of speakers, I don't want anything to do with them.


Fela Kuti:
Shuffering and Shmiling

The king of "afro-beat," compared to James Brown but more of an African sound, and more toward the Jazz side of funk. A whole series of excellent re-masters were released when he died. All of them are packed with 20 min. jams (give or take a few minutes). If you have never heard of Fela Kuti do yourself a favor and at least check him out. Very dynamic music, groove oriented, and politically charged (during his lifetime he was persecuted by his government, and became a religious leader... Music was his religion) Fascinating story behind this man's absolutely incredible music.


Galactic:
We Love 'Em Tonight: Live At Tipitina's

Monster jam band out of New Orleans. Funk/Jazz/Hip-Hop/Rock for the masses. These guys cook. Driven by their amazing drummer, Stanton Moore. If you think that you might like these guys, chances are you will love them.


St. Germain:
Tourist

Jazz influenced electronica, nice atmospherics, nice sound quality. I only used it a couple of times because it didn't reveal anything that other music, that I had already been using, didn't cover.


Quincy Jones:
Big Band Bossa Nova

The name says it all "Big Band Bossa Nova" It was a fun change of pace for a couple of listens and thats about it. The "Austin Powers" theme music came from this album. Very good recording/re-master; dynamic sound.


Stanton Moore:
All Kooked Out!

and
Flyin' The Koop

His solo stuff is more jazz/funk and less rock than what he does with Galactic. Truly one of the best drummers alive today. Fast, tight, controlled... Will always get your toes tappin' and your booty movin' !


James Brown:
Foundations Of Funk: A Brand New Bag 1964-1969

The Godfather, needs no introduction. May he finally rest in peace. I hope that someone goes through and releases some of the hidden gems from the vaults, I am sure there are many. Recording quality here is okay, but not great. This is an excellent example of it being about the music and not about the recording.


MC 900 Ft Jesus:
Welcome to My Dream

and
One Step Ahead Of The Spider

MC 900 ft Jesus... gotta be one of the all time greatest names in history. His music is dark, bordering on psychotic at times, but I can't help but love it. I would liken it to a really good roller-coaster, it scares the hell out of me but I love the rush... Strong Jazz influence on the "One Step Ahead of the Spider" CD. This music also contains some sub-sonic bombs that nearly everything but a really good sub would miss.

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #278 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Stan Getz & João Gilberto:
Getz/Gilberto

Another total classic... I heard "The Girl From Ipanema" all over Europe when I traveled there in the mid 90's. Street musicians playing it in an alley in Barcelona, at a coffee house in Amsterdam, somebody humming along with their walkman (pre-ipod days) on the train, and at a cafe' in Florence. That, and the fact that Astrud Gilberto's voice is so hauntingly sexy and the tone of Stan Getz's saxophone on that song is so unbelievably rich and emotional, makes this the perfect test for "mid range Magic."



There are a couple more tracks that I listened to at David (aka Boybees) house from these albums:

Nirvana:
Nevermind

Charles Mingus:
Ah-Um

U2:
Achtung Baby

Diana Krall:
Love Scenes

I am not going to post any thoughts about them as they are pretty well know, and were used only the one time....

I had to split this up over three post's because the forum will only let me post 10 pic's in each post...
Cheers all,
Funk

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #279 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 05:14 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Warpdrv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 7,350
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 15
Dude... Sweeet.....

Thanks alot for taking the time to List all of the albums you were runnin there...
Alot of cool albums I have to get my hands on so I can audition...

I'm listening to the Eryka Badu - Rimshot is a wicked low end performance piece as well as the rest of the Album.... Cool stuff....
Warpdrv is offline  
post #280 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 05:30 PM
Member
 
Zensei's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 18
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Zensei -

Welcome to the "journey" friend! I sure hope you find what you're looking for!
...
I will echo Funkmonkey and recommend the Salk's. They are an incredible bargain for their asking price. I hope to be an owner soon!

Thank you for the welcome Nuance!

I certainly appreciate the "tube" sound, and appreciate your insight on what was most affecting the wonderful music I was hearing during that audition. I believe you're correct that it would be the ProAcs that were the true marvels there. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to audition them some more this weekend, and with any luck on solid state electronics for comparison to the first audition.

As far as the SongTower's go, I really wish I could get a chance to audition them and some Aerials but it seems it's not meant to be (for now).

~ Zen ~
Zensei is offline  
post #281 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 05:32 PM
Member
 
Zensei's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 18
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
You have a nice variety of music tastes Funk! Certainly makes searching for a very well rounded loudspeaker that much more challenging but rewarding as well.
Zensei is offline  
post #282 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 06:10 PM
Member
 
Zensei's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 18
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by funkmonkey View Post

Hey Zensei,
I was just thinking... if your dealer would allow you to take the speakers home for an audition, you will know exactly how they sound on your system. Or take your receiver with you next time you go for a listen... Judging by your last post I would have to say that the ProAc's probably have a pretty sweet midrange, that was accentuated by the tubes.

I definitely plan on asking the dealer if he allows for home demos, or at least what his return or trade-up policy is. I was thinking of bringing in my electronics but it will be pretty heavy to lug up a few flights of stairs from the underground parking lot. Although I did read a post the other night of a guy who hefted his floorstanding speakers 3 blocks from the nearest available parking spot to a store for an A/B audition!
Zensei is offline  
post #283 of 2204 Old 03-12-2008, 06:42 PM
Member
 
twodown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 134
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I've been reading posts for a long time...rarely adding comments, but for some reason felt I should echo John's sentiment that this (Nuance's, others) thread(s) have lead me down roads I never thought I would travel in searching for speakers. Surprisingly to me my area ("music city") is lacking in places to audition speaker, and my list too audition is becoming increasingly longer as I read through these threads....my wife and I will be traveling over the upcoming months with many side trips for auditions over 3 states. Thanks to all for your comments and thoughts on speakers.
Rimshot is on my audition CD as well. Cheers.
twodown is offline  
post #284 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 05:00 AM
Advanced Member
 
jsalk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Oakland, MI
Posts: 783
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 32
funkmonkey -

You asked me to post the contents of an email I sent you a few weeks ago. Sorry it took so long. I took the liberty of editing it somewhat for purposes of clarity. Let's call it...

THE $2000 CHALLENGE

funkmonkey wants a great speaker with bass extension down to a solid 30Hz and has a budget of $2000. This is a real challenge for a speaker designer.

It is possible to design a great speaker that plays to 30Hz. The problem is, it will exceed funkmonkey's budget. Here is why:

Speaker design is the art of balancing trade-offs. The speaker world is controlled by the laws of physics. You can't violate them. So you have to deal with the trade-offs involved.

Before we get going, let me say that there are many "good" $2000 speakers on the market today. But there are no "great" speakers that will play to 30Hz in this group.

First, it is important to realize that 80% of information is found in the midrange. If you don't get this right, you may have a speaker some will find acceptable, but certainly not what we will refer to as a "great" speaker. Herein lies the first trade-off.

Every driver excels in a certain frequency range and no driver can produce great midrange (accurate and detailed) and also produce deep, extended bass.

In a 2-way design, you can select a driver that plays deeper, but you will generally have to give up performance higher up in order to get more extended bass response.

Let's examine how this choice impacted our SongTower design as an example.

One major reason the SongTowers have been so well received, is that they reproduce an exceptionally accurate and detailed midrange and, at the same time, exhibit superb imaging (very deep and wide sound stage). All of these are the result of using a smaller (5") high-quality midwoofer with the extremely good dispersion characteristics a smaller driver can provide. (Most companies will publish FR plots 15-degrees off axis. We have published one at 60-degrees off axis.)

The trade-off is that a 5" driver will not play exceptionally deep. That is an issue we had to deal with and is where the SongTower's transmission line cabinet comes into play.

Unlike a sealed or ported cabinet, the transmission line cabinet is actually part of the speaker rather than an inert box holding the drivers. The energy radiating from the back side of the midwoofer excites air in the transmission line and the "line" is tuned to extend the bass response below where it would be using the same driver with any other type of cabinet. TL cabinets are difficult to design and not all drivers work in them. But, in this case, it works out quite well and many people are surprised by the bass extension of the SongTowers.

But even with the TL cabinet, we can't get to funkmonkey's 30Hz. So what are the alternatives at our disposal?

Well, going with a larger midwoofer in a 2-way design will allow greater bass extension. But the trade-off will be less detail and accuracy in the midrange and far more limited dispersion, resulting in a narrower and shallower sound stage.

In speakers sold at retail, midrange quality is often sacrificed for bass extension. When listening in an audio showroom, people are generally impressed by two things: the amount and extension of the bass and the "air" in the tweeter section. Only after they purchase them and spend some time with them, do they realize that there is a notable lack of midrange quality and relatively poor imaging. You can often add one-note, boomy bass as well.

And that "air" in the tweeter section can also be a problem. Since the larger midwoofer utilized cannot play as high, a tweeter must be chosen that can cross relatively low. In many cases, the top end "air" may result in pushing this larger tweeter to levels of distortion that can contribute to listener fatigue.

There are other alternatives in a 2-way speaker design, but they all involve advanced technology and very expensive drivers. The Seas Excel W18 in our Veracity series speakers is a good example. It uses a very low mass and extremely stiff magnesium cone to generate a great deal of midrange detail. But it is a very expensive driver in comparison to the drivers in the speakers in your price range. And even then, 30Hz is generally not obtainable.

In short, it is highly unlikely that a 2-way design of any consequence could meet the 30 Hz criteria.

Another alternative is a 3- or more-way design. But it is extremely hard to to successfully integrate 3 or more drivers. Integrating drivers, even in a 2-way, is difficult. Only a very small number of 3- or more-way speakers in the world get this right and they are very expensive.

In this situation, finding a combination of 3 or more great drivers and, at the same time, keeping the finished cost under $2000 is basically impossible.

This is especially true if you are designing a speaker that will be sold at retail. An audio dealer needs a 40 - 50% margin in order to carry a product. So the manufacturer must deliver the $2000 speaker to the dealer for around $1000.

In order to do that, and also cover overhead, marketing, R&D, the cost of the cabinets and provide for a profit, the manufacturer can't spend more than about $150 on parts (drivers, crossovers, binding posts, etc.).

To put that into perspective, the Hiquphon tweeters in our SongTowers would already exceed that parts budget. And the woofers in our Veracity HT3's cost more than that each.

Great musical reproduction starts and ends in the midrange. If you don't get that right, you may have an acceptable speaker, but it will not be a "great" speaker. Again, 80% of what you hear is in the midrange. The "you are there" experience most experienced audiophiles look for can be found in the midrange.

That is why we concentrate so hard on midrange performance. It is the foundation of every great speaker design.

Beyond that, you should have detail in the tweeter section as well. The more detail you have here, the better the speaker will re-create the overtone structure of instruments (the level of which is down considerably in volume from the fundamental tones). The more detail you have in the top end, the more "real" instruments will sound. It takes a very good tweeter to provide this detail without causing listener fatigue.

While bass extension is important, if your intention is to design a truly great speaker, you should pursue this only after the midrange and top end are addressed. Because unless you have those two elements well in hand, you will not have a truly great speaker.

So the problem in creating a $2000 speaker with bass extension to 30Hz comes down to accepting some trade-offs that really aren't all that acceptable if you want the best in audio reproduction. You will have to give up a detail, accuracy and imaging, which are attributes that contribute to the "magic" most experienced audiophiles look for.

The bottom line is this: If you are looking for a "great" $2000 speaker with bass extension to 30Hz, your search will likely be in vain. It just doesn't exist.

Well, I could go on forever. But that is probably enough for now.

SalkSound.com
Custom-crafted Speakers
jsalk is offline  
post #285 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Thank you for taking the time to post that Jim. That was excellent, and even more informative than your e-mail

-Greg

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #286 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Round 12
(second listens and a couple new ones)

I will be using some new music, a lot of it, and a couple of tracks that I have been using already that have proven extremely beneficial to my evaluations. I may not listen to all of them on each speaker (24 tracks total) but they cover a pretty wide musical spectrum and recording quality varies almost as much. For the most part the music I picked is on the upbeat side. Makes the process more positive for me and I think that this music is most likely to reveal flaws in a speakers overall performance.

I am going to stick with the order I listened during auditions, starting off with a couple of seconds...

Paradigm Studio 100

I still like the bass of this speaker, it reaches pretty deep and has nice impact. With the percussive slap style bass you can hear the strings rattling on the neck of the upright with ease. My second listen had a few bright moments where some tracks were rendered thin, or jangley. A couple of songs that usually have a huge expansive atmospheric quality to them sounded a bit narrow on the 100's, but other recordings had very nice imaging. My original assessment of this speaker still stands with me... more suited to home theater and movies than to music.

Dynaudio Focus 220

Right off I felt more relaxed with this speaker than the studio 100. All the edginess was gone, more of a relaxing listen. Trumpet peaks were more smooth, mid bass was not as punchy, much more of a smooth even sound. Maybe too smooth, though. I missed the sharp highs, but liked the even mids of the Focus 220's. I still found the low bass to be a little indistinct, not really bad or anything, just a little too slow when pushed to it's lower limits with music like Beenie Man (dancehall Reggae). They did much better with jazz, rock, and blues. This is still a good all-arounder, but a little expensive for it's performance if you ask me.

Those two speakers pretty much bookend the sound I am looking for, but neither one is right for me. I asked the salesman if he had anything that was in the same price range and had a sound kind of in between those two. He smiled and directed me to...

Focal Chorus 836-V: (≈$3000)


Trumpets sounded nice here, a little more edge than the Focus 220's, and not as much as the Studio 100's. Strings rattled properly against the neck of the acoustic bass when slapped around. Overall sound was clear, and well defined, with a nice balance. A couple of songs in I wonder how high these go, because to me, they sound like they are rolled off at the top with cymbal rides, coming across not quite real. Vocals sounded good, electric bass had a full blanketing sound, not overly punchy but had some impact. Fu Manchu sounded really good on these speakers, guitars were thick and mean. The male vocals of Bill Withers sounded natural. Erykah Badu sounded good on the Focal's, so did the J.B.'s. Bass tightness was better than the Focus 220's, depth seemed about the same. They did a very nice job picking up the overtones of electric bass. The tone of Wes Montgomery's guitar was good but not great. One of the new tracks I brought along was like a rolling stone by Jimi Hendrix from the Jimi plays Monterey CD. Not a the best recording, but it sounded really bad on these speakers. A couple of songs that I included just to see if i would get the chills, came close on one but not the others. For some reason the Focal 836-V seemed to handle male vocals better than female. They really did peg the in between sound (Focus 220 & Studio 100) that I asked for and I liked the overall sound here. Aesthetically, I didn't care for the chevron shaped grills, or the French glitzy feel I got from these speakers. I like the looks of Focals higher-end Electra line much, much better...

Of the three, I actually liked the overall sound of the Focals the best (for music), and the understated look of the Dynaudio's. But, I don't think any of these three will find a place in my home. If I had a dedicated HT setup, I would seriously be considering the Studio 100's.

_____________

That was Monday. On Tuesday, as you may already know I had an appointment for some more seconds.....

Usher Be-718 Tiny Dancer

First off I really like the way that brass sounds with the Be tweeter, crisp and clear but not edgy or piercing. Cymbal work also comes across nicely. I notice that acoustic bass seems to miss the lowest notes, today, I did not notice this before. If they are present, they are several dB's lower than they should be. This wouldn't be any problem whatsoever, if these were used in conjunction with a sub. Listening to Come Together I really miss the fullness of the larger floor standers, but feel that they do a good job overall. I got the same feeling of missing the fullness with Fu Manchu. Ain't No Sunshine, by Bill Withers sounded excellent on the Ushers, vocals were full and rich and a big open space was created for the sound-stage. What ever these things lack in depth they make up for in speed, they did a good job separating the bass and kick drum beats, even when they were close together. Somehow the mids started to sound a little on the lean side as I listened to more music on the Tiny Dancers. Imaging was good with most music though not great. After hearing the higher-end speakers these are not as impressive as the first listen, though I still think they are quite good for their size. In case anybody wonders, I like them more than the Ascend Sierra's but I think that the Sierra's would be a better value.


Era D-14

I wanted to give these a fair shake, because the last time I had listened was right after the Dali Icon's and I had the impression that their highs were lacking. This time I thought they actually sounded pretty nice. And speaking of pretty, they are very easy on the eyes, high WAF with the Era's. Very evenly balanced presentation here, everything sounded good across the board. Forgiving, laid-back speaker. Imaging was pretty mediocre, sound was easy to locate as coming out of the speakers. Nothing made me say wow, and nothing sounded really bad. This could be a good, or bad thing depending on your perspective, I want something a bit more dynamic than the Era D-14.

Totem Hawk

This is a hard one to write for a lot of reasons. One, because I still really like this speaker. Two, because I have heard better ones. Three because it does so much really well, and I have found a weakness. The Totem Hawk really delivers a big musical sound out of a small very handsome looking cabinet. I have heard that many people feel that Totem has a bright sound to their speakers and until I listened to them a third time I didn't have any idea what they were talking about. The Hawks are fairly inefficient speakers, and the low end suffers most if they are not driven with adequate power. The first time I heard them was with 200 watts behind them, the second and third were with 75 watts (if I remember correctly). I still would not consider the Hawk to be a bright speaker, though after my last listen I would say that they are indeed voiced with an accent on the high end. The Thiels come to mind as bright, The Hawks are detailed and accurate with almost everything I threw at them. Imaging is some of the best at this price. Cymbals, snare drums and pianos sound very real on the Hawks. Vocals also sound very good. Both Erykah Badu and Fu Manchu sound excellent. Guitar tone is right on, and so is the sound of the brass instruments. Bass is fast and tight, though not as full bodied as the more expensive speakers I have heard. One of the new tracks I listened to was Even After All by Finley Quaye, it is really a beautiful song and I included it as a song that might give me the chills but it proved to have an additional value. The bass is pretty deep and very full; the Hawks were doing fine, in this department, with every song before this one. I noticed a little bit of distortion while there was a sustained bass note, and then a kick drum beat in the song. Walking up close you could almost see the driver wanting to suck back in but immediately kicking back out to cover the kick drum, producing a distorted ugthmp rather than a clean thump. It was subtle and only on this song. Overall I still think this is a great speaker, and if I have to compromise on price this may be a good one to settle on. My main concern with the Hawk is that I know I would want to upgrade in a couple of years or sooner. They offered to lend me the pair for an in home audition and i may have to take them up on that. Between the SongTowers and the Hawks, it is a very tough call for me. They both have their strengths and they both have weaknesses.



Dali Helicon 300: (msrp≈$3000)


A couple of people have suggested that I listen to something in the Dali Helicon line and the shop I was at had a pair of of 300's that had been knocked over by a customer and then repaired. The 400, which I am more interested in, was not in stock, and the dealer told me that these were an older model that has since been updated. Neither of us were sure what the revision included. The Helicon 300's that I listened to were a similar size to the Usher Be-718's, and PSB Synchrony's that had I listened to before. Kind of largish for a bookshelf speaker, I guess this size is more commonly referred to as stand mount. The cabinets and finish on these Dali's was top notch; very, very nice looking.
I started with the Girl From Ipanema and thought that the male vocal had nice resonance, and instrumentation was crisp, clear and natural sounding. Once again the ribbon tweeters provided ultra clear and crisp cymbal reproduction, but this time without any harshness. So far only the ribbons have provided a truly accurate sound on cymbals. Wes Montgomery's guitar tone was spot-on. Excellent separation of sound and nice balance. Bongo drums on Sunny sounded like hands slapping the skins. This music was very easy to listen to on the Dali's. Finley Quaye's even after all sounded good here, the guitar tone was exceptional (again), and the bass seemed to reach fairly deep (at least as deep as the Ushers) though was lacking a little fullness (like the Ushers). This lack of fullness seems to be the major difference between the stand-mount and floor standers, they reach almost as deep but lack the body of the floor standers. Miles Davis' trumpet sounded real, on All of You, so did the sax but that did get a little piercing on some of the runs. Slap-style, upright bass string percussive effects sounded good with Medeski, Martin and Wood. The actual bass notes sounded recessed though. With John Lee Hooker everything sounded good, standouts being guitar tone and cymbals, but overall nice balance to the sound. When I played Come Together I again missed the fullness of bass and the low end of it, though upper to mid-bass section sounded very good, providing the blanketing feeling that I look for. Guitars sounded really good again, and vocals seemed to be slightly back in the mix like they should be with this song. Fu Manchu sounded good but the high guitar notes were a little piercing. On ain't no sunshine, Bill Withers, when the strings come in they sound excellent, and his vocal sounds quite good here too. Erykah Badu sounds good, except the missing ultra-low notes. Everything else sounded pretty good on these speakers, the Pretenders had a nice little sparkle to their sound, and they did a good job with atmospherics when fed electronic music.
I liked this speaker, though I still want deeper bass from my fronts. I don't know if I am just getting used to the ribbon tweeter sound or if the Helicons do a better job implementing it, but they sounded really nice to me. I have come to the realization that if you want truly accurate cymbal reproduction, ribbons are the only way to go, they get the sizzle that everything else seems to fall just short of, soft domes being the worst at this singular aspect of sound. This does come at a price though, as every single ribbon I have heard has had at least one harsh or piercing moment with either brass, or with high electric guitar notes. These Dali's are no exception, though they really are fantastic speakers. Now I really want to hear the 400... or even the 800!

Jump to Final Round ?

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #287 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 10:55 AM
AVS Special Member
 
rydenfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sarasota, Fl
Posts: 3,312
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Funk, I am thrilled you took my suggestion and listened to the Helicons. As you know, I listened to quite a few things before choosing the 400's. I think you would be most impressed with the 400 or 800. Also, the 300's crossed over to a sub might also be a great combination for you. There is just something special about a ribbon tweeter to me. Dali's is actually a hybrid ribbon/dome tweeter.

FWIW, now that you are this bitten by the bug you should not expect to buy any speaker or component and think you will not still be thinking about upgrading
rydenfan is offline  
post #288 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
funkmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by rydenfan View Post

Funk, I am thrilled you took my suggestion and listened to the Helicons. As you know, I listened to quite a few things before choosing the 400's. I think you would be most impressed with the 400 or 800. Also, the 300's crossed over to a sub might also be a great combination for you. There is just something special about a ribbon tweeter to me. Dali's is actually a hybrid ribbon/dome tweeter.

FWIW, now that you are this bitten by the bug you should not expect to buy any speaker or component and think you will not still be thinking about upgrading

The full realization of that has finally sunk in, that is one major reason I upped my budget. In hopes that I would be able to wait a few years before I wanted to upgrade my speakers again. I like the hybrid tweeters in the Helicon series much better than the ones in the Icons, I don't know the technical differences between the two but the Helicon version is much smoother sounding to my ears. Thanks for the suggestion...
-Funk

->>>≈<<<-
Speakerquest
funkmonkey is offline  
post #289 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 11:16 AM
AVS Special Member
 
buzzy_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,461
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 46
Thanks very much to Jim for posting his comments, very useful. I always find Jim's comments very interesting. That discussion would be a great basis for anyone to think about buying any kind of speaker, to understand at a broad level the ingredients and tradeoffs.

And thanks to funkmonkey for generating that and all the other interesting discussion here.
buzzy_ is offline  
post #290 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 11:26 AM
AVS Special Member
 
rydenfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sarasota, Fl
Posts: 3,312
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by funkmonkey View Post

The full realization of that has finally sunk in, that is one major reason I upped my budget. In hopes that I would be able to wait a few years before I wanted to upgrade my speakers again.

It won't help, but it is a nice idea


Quote:


I like the hybrid tweeters in the Helicon series much better than the ones in the Icons, I don't know the technical differences between the two but the Helicon version is much smoother sounding to my ears. Thanks for the suggestion...
-Funk

I do understand the occasional brightness that you speak of, but it is very rare and usually brief. There are some excellent deals right now on Agon on the Helicons. Also, due to the ribbon, the Helicon Center Channel is an incredible speaker and handles dialog so well.
rydenfan is offline  
post #291 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 11:41 AM
Advanced Member
 
ChicagoTC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rydenfan View Post

It won't help, but it is a nice idea




I do understand the occasional brightness that you speak of, but it is very rare and usually brief. There are some excellent deals right now on Agon on the Helicons. Also, due to the ribbon, the Helicon Center Channel is an incredible speaker and handles dialog so well.

There are NO Dalis on agon!

Can't wait to hear your reviews of the 400s! I think I'm finally getting out this Saturday; Dali, Dynaudio, and B&W is on my list.
ChicagoTC is offline  
post #292 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:06 PM
AVS Special Member
 
rydenfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sarasota, Fl
Posts: 3,312
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
rydenfan is offline  
post #293 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:07 PM
Member
 
TheAdamBomb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Yay! Dali's make another appearance in the quest! I'm absolutely loving my new Helicon 400's. I did demo the 300's in my travels and, much like you, found the bass to be lacking in places, though impressive for a "bookshelf."

The cabinet, plus an additional woofer, really makes all the difference in the 400's and even 800's. I do fear that you may not be able to find the Helicon MKI's for much longer as they've been discontinued for a while now, being replaced by the much more expensive MKII's. If you are truly digging the Dali Helicon sound, give the Helicon 400 MKII's a listen. Not much is different between the two versions-- cosmetics and the correction of a bass "bulge" seem to be the highlights. Overall the MKI's are proving to be a stellar deal in the discontinued market.
TheAdamBomb is offline  
post #294 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:08 PM
Advanced Member
 
ChicagoTC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rydenfan View Post

Here is a whole page:

Link removed[/url]


I know I was kidding as I don't want him snapping up the great deal on the MKII 400s
ChicagoTC is offline  
post #295 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:16 PM
Advanced Member
 
ChicagoTC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAdamBomb View Post

Yay! Dali's make another appearance in the quest! I'm absolutely loving my new Helicon 400's. I did demo the 300's in my travels and, much like you, found the bass to be lacking in places, though impressive for a "bookshelf."

The cabinet, plus an additional woofer, really makes all the difference in the 400's and even 800's. I do fear that you may not be able to find the Helicon MKI's for much longer as they've been discontinued for a while now, being replaced by the much more expensive MKII's. If you are truly digging the Dali Helicon sound, give the Helicon 400 MKII's a listen. Not much is different between the two versions-- cosmetics and the correction of a bass "bulge" seem to be the highlights. Overall the MKI's are proving to be a stellar deal in the discontinued market.

Sorry for the hijack...but have you heard the either the MKII c200 with MKI 400s or vice versa? I wonder if the slight MKII changes affected the tonal matching with the C200.
ChicagoTC is offline  
post #296 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:35 PM
Member
 
TheAdamBomb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTC View Post

Sorry for the hijack...but have you heard the either the MKII c200 with MKI 400s or vice versa? I wonder if the slight MKII changes affected the tonal matching with the C200.

I haven't heard them matched up with each other, but from what I've heard the sound is very similar and it shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure if you post that question in the Dali thread someone will have had experience with them. AudioArchitect, a (former?) Dali dealer, has had a lot of playing time with the MKI's and MKII's.
TheAdamBomb is offline  
post #297 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 12:43 PM
AVS Special Member
 
rydenfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sarasota, Fl
Posts: 3,312
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Audioarchitect and Audiodynamics are both Dali dealers and vist the dali thread regularly. I believe Anthony (audiodynamics) recently posted that there would be no issue with the center and fronts from different generations.
rydenfan is offline  
post #298 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 01:04 PM
Advanced Member
 
ChicagoTC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks guys, back to Funks regularly scheduled thread.
ChicagoTC is offline  
post #299 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 01:11 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cschang's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
Posts: 14,730
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 70
You know, it is going to be a sad day when Funk actually gets his new speakers.

-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.
Help beat breast cancer!

cschang is offline  
post #300 of 2204 Old 03-13-2008, 02:36 PM
Member
 
fortlee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Garden State
Posts: 57
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Funkmonkey, I continue to enjoy reading your great thread! Did you get a chance to listen to the AV123 speakers (Rocket RS1000, Strata Mini or Reference 3 are in your price range; I believe you mentioned them)? They got quite a few very favorable reviews.
fortlee is offline  
Reply Speakers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off