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Please help me blow $2,500 on speakers :)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Greetings all,

So, after years of living with 'not bad' entry level JBL Studio Series bookshelf speakers, my wife and I are looking to invest in some high quality loudspeakers. I have been doing a lot of research, looking at brands I recognized immediately, such as JBL, Klipsch, and Polk, as well as highly rated and recommended brands I didn't recognize, such as Axiom, BW, and Paradigm.

I have read countless positive reviews of the axioms, such as how their $500 M22 bookshelf speakers sound as good as $1,000 speakers, and am currently leaning toward Axiom in terms of performance for the money.

I'm hoping some of the helpful folks on this forum might be able to help me in terms of selecting new loudspeakers, as this is such a huge investment, I want to gather lots of advice and opinions, and audition loudspeakers in store when possible, before dropping a wad of cash.

Here is some information regarding budget, listening location, preferences, and current gear.


- budget for 5.1 system is around $2,500 but willing to spend up to $3,000 if a noticeable improvement in sound quality can be had for the extra $500.

- Medium sized room for the forseeable future, approximately 2500 square feet.

- Musical tastes varied, include: blues, classical, electronic, heavy metal, jazz, rock.

- Enjoy listening at high volumes, often near reference level.

- Will be listening on Onkyo TX-NR709 receiver, 110w per channel.

- Want to be able to listen to music in surround, so will need to be able to drive all speakers, not just mains, hard.

- Love dynamics and transients, when I listen to modern, compressed recordings and hi hats sound dull and muddy instead of shimmery, it pisses me off.

- Listen to a lot of classic rock recordings, some recorded overly bright and some containing loads of distortion (the first Queen album is a tough beast to tame on my current setup, even Bob Ludwig's excellent 2011 remasters sound brittle and at times hard to listen to on my current speakers).


I hope I provided enough info for a starting point, and let me say that I greatly appreciate and value any advice and input. This is a big investment, and I want to make the choice that's right for my ears!

Thanks very much.
post #2 of 22
Is your budget for 5 speakers, or does it also include the subwoofer?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
5.1, so including the subwoofer.
post #4 of 22
Look into the Epik Legend, Rythmik FV12, HSU VTF-2 MK4, or Outlaw Audio LFM-1 Plus for the sub. These are Internet direct subs that perform better than subs costing $1000 at BestBuy and are commonly recommended on the AVS subwoofer forum as best performance values.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback on the sub. I have read nothing but positive stuff about Hsu Research. I was thinking of going with them no matter what brand I go with for the other speakers.
post #6 of 22
I think those Axioms might offend your ears after a while, all those metal drivers... If not properly tamed in the crossover will have audible breakup. This is what I suggest for your situation.

Ascend CMT340 with pedestal stands
Ascend CMT340 center
Ascend CBM170

$1220 with their package discount

Having smooth, clean bass response is one of the biggest factors in making your system sound believably large and powerful.
HSU VTF3 x2 $1320. A pair of good subs gives you much better in room response, integration, and output. I think this is a better solution vs a single $1200 sub.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Greetings all,



- Medium sized room for the forseeable future, approximately 2500 square feet.


Thanks very much.

Wow! With an average 8' ceiling height that's 20,000 cubic feet

I'm guessing it's supposed to be 2500 "cubic" feet

Anyway, there's so much to choose from at that price range you're going to be getting suggestions from everywhere.

Try and narrow down your purchase options. Can you demo anything in you area or do you have to rely on mail order?

If mail order try to find the places that allow 30 day trials, some will refund non of the shipping, some will refund all, some ship free to you but make you pay to return.

Maybe give us a little more information.
post #8 of 22
Try looking at Definitive Technology.

They make really good speakers for the money, $2500 of deftech will get you some serious bang for your buck.
post #9 of 22
At that price and for a 5.1 system, don't ignore PSB. Great value and some nice options that likely fit the budget.
post #10 of 22
Paradigm monitor 9 towers for R/L, Center 3, Mini Monitor surrounds.
Should run about $2000.

http://www.paradigm.com/products/pro...nitor-speakers
If you want to save some money, you could go with Monitor 7s but since you like it reference level, why go smaller....

Pair it up with a Hsu VTF-3 mk4 for about $750 shipped or the VTF-15H for $1000 shipped and you will be floored.

Paradigms are only sold through dealers though so you will have to buy locally.

IMO this is an awesome setup for $2700-$3000.

Guess thats why I run Paradigms with a Hsu sub.

Here is Sound&Vision's review:
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/art...speaker-system

Keep in mind their pricing is retail and you usually get a discount with a package. I would replace the surrounds with direct firing thus the Mini Monitor recommendation but that is my personal preference. Also removing the Paradigm sub drops $1000 from the price (roughly).

Good luck in your search.
post #11 of 22
Second that. Avoid Axiom unless you enjoy having your ears bleed.
post #12 of 22
I'm selling my Paradigm monitor 7 v2's and ADP 170 Dipole surrounds.. $600 I just bought some Mirage OMD 15's,OMD C1.. Trying to figure out the rears.. OMD 5's or OMD-R's..
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

I think those Axioms might offend your ears after a while, all those metal drivers... If not properly tamed in the crossover will have audible breakup. This is what I suggest for your situation.

Ascend CMT340 with pedestal stands
Ascend CMT340 center
Ascend CBM170

$1220 with their package discount

Having smooth, clean bass response is one of the biggest factors in making your system sound believably large and powerful.
HSU VTF3 x2 $1320. A pair of good subs gives you much better in room response, integration, and output. I think this is a better solution vs a single $1200 sub.

I was guessing, as Kini62 pointed out, that his room is 2500 cubic feet. If so, any one of the subs I listed previously will have plenty of output. Better to put the money into the speakers. The Ascend Acoustic Sierra-1s would be a better choice across the front.
post #14 of 22
http://www.lockwaresystems.com/SwanT700HT-256.html

Review (Well not really, but a happy customer xD): http://www.erodov.com/forums/aragorn...ana/40205.html

That's about 2k.

Sub

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/vtf-15h.html


1k

Total: 3k

*They're both inverted triangle designs*

Enjoy
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I was guessing, as Kini62 pointed out, that his room is 2500 cubic feet. If so, any one of the subs I listed previously will have plenty of output. Better to put the money into the speakers. The Ascend Acoustic Sierra-1s would be a better choice across the front.

The main benefit of dual subs isn't really output, unless you plan on co-locating them. It's the natural EQ it can provide to the room response, and much more believable integration with your mains.

Those Swans are very cool looking!
post #16 of 22
I have a pair of velodyne dual sub setup and yes it really provides a great balanced bass without working hard.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

The main benefit of dual subs isn't really output, unless you plan on co-locating them. It's the natural EQ it can provide to the room response, and much more believable integration with your mains.
!

I'm not sure what "natural EQ" means, but the point is that the OP doesn't need a single or dual VTF3.4s for that space in terms of output. And for that matter, his post focuses significantly on music. For the cost of two HSU VTF3.4s, he should also consider a Rythmik F15HP for better sound quality.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


I'm not sure what "natural EQ" means, but the point is that the OP doesn't need a single or dual VTF3.4s for that space in terms of output. And for that matter, his post focuses significantly on music. For the cost of two HSU VTF3.4s, he should also consider a Rythmik F15HP for better sound quality.

It means the subs can balance out room modes without electronic manipulation. I'll take dual subs any day in this price range. Since when did head room become a bad thing? Not pushing a sub to its limits results in lower distortion, aka better sound quality. OP wants HSU, thats what I recommend.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've heard a lot of good things about Hsu but really I'm open to any quality brand that can deliver great performance and value. As previously mentioned, I'd like to be in the $2500 range ideally for the full setup, so my budget for a sub is probably closer to around $6-700 dollars. My room is probably going to be somewhere around 2500 cubic feet.

So as I understand it, if I'm looking for clean highs that aren't harsh and don't break up, I should avoid metal drivers? So this would rule out JBL, Axiom, Polk, and even Paradigm? Many of the speakers I've been looking at utilize metal tweeters: aluminum or titanium, etc. Should I avoid any type is speaker which heavily relies on metal drivers then?
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Hi all,

I've heard a lot of good things about Hsu but really I'm open to any quality brand that can deliver great performance and value. As previously mentioned, I'd like to be in the $2500 range ideally for the full setup, so my budget for a sub is probably closer to around $6-700 dollars. My room is probably going to be somewhere around 2500 cubic feet.

So as I understand it, if I'm looking for clean highs that aren't harsh and don't break up, I should avoid metal drivers? So this would rule out JBL, Axiom, Polk, and even Paradigm? Many of the speakers I've been looking at utilize metal tweeters: aluminum or titanium, etc. Should I avoid any type is speaker which heavily relies on metal drivers then?

Metal tweeters aren't really the problem, those usually breakup above 20khz where it is inaudible. Metal woofers are outstanding, when proper care is given to notch breakups and a sufficiently steep crossover slope is used. The problem with that is it makes for an expensive crossover, and when you're looking at relatively low cost speakers, it's pretty common to skimp out there where no one can see it...
post #21 of 22
How about Monitor Audio Silver Rx 6's then get the center and either the radius or the Rx1 bookselfs as surrounds. Thats the system im looking at building and I currently have the Rx6's hooked up to an old Yamaha RX-V361 and they sound great. I heard paradigms and i liked them but they were too bright when turned up and the Klipsch just sounded bad even tho im a fan of there promedia 2.1 PC speakers i used to have. I Highly recommend the MA's and the whole setup with the RX1's as the surrounds should run just under $2500. Maybe even less bc im figureing up my local dealer and they are pretty cocky and high on the price. Also in your price range are Canton GLE and even though a lot of people have not heard of them.. everyone that does seems to absolutly love them and I have had them also and you cant go wrong with either one.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Hi all,

I've heard a lot of good things about Hsu but really I'm open to any quality brand that can deliver great performance and value. As previously mentioned, I'd like to be in the $2500 range ideally for the full setup, so my budget for a sub is probably closer to around $6-700 dollars. My room is probably going to be somewhere around 2500 cubic feet.

So as I understand it, if I'm looking for clean highs that aren't harsh and don't break up, I should avoid metal drivers? So this would rule out JBL, Axiom, Polk, and even Paradigm? Many of the speakers I've been looking at utilize metal tweeters: aluminum or titanium, etc. Should I avoid any type is speaker which heavily relies on metal drivers then?

A good tweeter is a good tweeter. You shouldn't have "harshness" issues if the acoustical engineering was well done.

In regards to a good tweeter, the things I look for are extension, clarity, dispersion, realism, sweetness, and dynamics.

Extension is the ability to replicate the highest frequencies without compromising the sound.

Clarity is related to words such as clean, clear, and often talks about distinguishing between many instruments playing at the same time.

Dispersion has to do with off-axis response. As you move left, right, up, or down, how much are you compromising?

Realism is self explanatory

Sweetness is hard to describe. A sweet tweeter will sound very lush and beautiful, while an analytic tweeter will sound more neutral/true to the source.

Dynamics are the ability to take the information thrown at it and replicate it as true to source as possible.

From what I gather, silk dome tweeters are usually the sweetest. Ribbon tweeters usually have the best extension/dispersion/dynamics. Metal Dome tweeters, and this is a personal opinion, tend to be a bit on the brighter side of the spectrum.

Again, these opinions apply to the basic, nothing influencing, drivers. After acoustical engineering is done, its hard to have any of these stereotypes. Any designer could fix any issues with his speaker before releasing it.

In response to your question, ruling it out before you demo them is not the best idea. However, if you cannot demo them, then you may have safer bets going with ribbons or silk domes.

As far as silk dome vs ribbon, regardless of all the advantages a ribbon has, sometimes the sweet sound of a silk dome is too hard to pass up. When it comes to music, silk dome vs ribbon can be very important. When it comes to home theater however, I would recommend going with a ribbon. Since the off axis response is almost the same as when you are directly in front of them, no matter where you are sitting while watching a movie, dialog will sound clean and clear.

Just my two cents.



Also, if you want a cheaper sub: http://www.rythmikaudio.com/FV12.html

Rythmik is well respected with having low distortion and high quality. Most of these ID companies are all on par with each other. SVS, HSU, Rythmik, etc. None of them necessarily beat each other, each offers their own unique "sound". It all depends on what your looking for. Music - Rythmik. HT - SVS. Both - HSU. However, any of their subs will do well in all fields of audio, those matchup's are just a personal opinion.
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