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Comparison, Unbiased Review & Ranking of 12 High-End Home Cinema Audio Systems

post #1 of 406
Thread Starter 
COMPARISON, UNBIASED REVIEW & RANKING OF 12 HIGH-END HOME CINEMA AUDIO BRANDS.pdf 979k .pdf file

Hi Everyone,

Please kindly find attached my comparison, unbiased review and ranking of 12 high-end home cinema audio systems.

Essentially this report is a write-up of a lengthy exercise that I recently completed to ascertain for myself which brand of home cinema audio equipment, in my opinion, is the best; and I thought such information would be of interest to the members of and visitors to this forum.

(N.B. Due to the document being no less than 40 pages long I have had to attach it as a downloadable file as opposed to including the content within this post).

I am happy to answer questions and I look forward to everyone's feedback.

Enjoy! smile.gif

I feel it important to point out that:

1) I am not affiliated with any specific manufacturer, distributor or supplier of A/V equipment, nor do I sell any; nor am I in any way connected with any A/V magazine or similar publication; and accordingly my opinion is entirely impartial and unbiased. I own and run an A/V company whose sole function is to service all the A/V needs of the property development company that I also own and run. As such, I have no bias towards any specific brand of A/V equipment.

2) This is my opinion only my opinion; accordigly should only be taken as such and your are perfectly entitled to either agree to disagree with it

Edited by madboynutter - 7/10/12 at 8:05am
post #2 of 406
You are 3 months and 3 days late!!!
post #3 of 406
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

You are 3 months and 3 days late!!!

Ah, a comedian... yes, ha ha smile.gif

Perhaps you might like to try reading it... this ain't no April Fool wink.gif
Edited by madboynutter - 7/4/12 at 1:44pm
post #4 of 406
There is so much wrong with this list that I wouldn't know where to start listing it. Also, I don't buy that you are unconnected with any manufacturer, especially your #1 manufacturer on that list. I smell BS piled a mile high.
post #5 of 406
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

There is so much wrong with this list that I wouldn't know where to start listing it. Also, I don't buy that you are unconnected with any manufacturer, especially your #1 manufacturer on that list. I smell BS piled a mile high.

But it's just my opinion... you don't have to agree with it. wink.gif

I am very happy for any forum MODERATOR or STAFF to verify my identity and confirm the fact that I am most certainly NOT affiliated whatsoever with any manufacturer. In fact I would like to invite them to do so, because your attitude has completely taken me by surprise. I posted this because I thought it would be of great interest to people, since how often is this sort of exercise carried out? Did you actually read what I have written? Or did you simply jump to the back page and then take 1 and 1 and make 12? rolleyes.gif

Incidentally, I am intrigued, what do you think is wrong with my list and why? smile.gif
post #6 of 406
My 2cents.

First off, if this is legit, appreciate the write up. It must have taken quite some time. Obviously, most systems reviewed will never be in the reach of mortal men. I could, maybe, with planning and much sacrifice, get one of the cheaper systems reviewed. So, in a sense it is like picking up an SI swimsuit issue to look for potential girlfriends, just pure fantasy. Still good reading. Audio porn!

As we all know, everyone's tastes vary regarding speaker preference. Plus, audio memory is short and the systems were all in different rooms. So the order of the list is not that critical. Some of the observations about each system's strengths and weaknesses are more useful. I also enjoyed reading your description about the scenes you used to demo the systems. There is a lot of info about great scenes for bass, but not as much regarding great scenes for the overall surround sound. I now have 2 reasons to buy Star Trek VI, the other being hearing a Klingon recite Shakespeare. wink.gif

One question regarding the winning system. Can you combine any other manufacturer's stuff with Steinway's or not at all? I mean, could you replace the subs with more powerful, cheaper subs or is it really all or nothing?

P.S. You suck in listing all the prices in pounds...Once I noticed that I had to recalculate really how damn expensive these systems are. That JBL one is ridiculous!
post #7 of 406
Given the list, and how enthusiastically you support your #1 product on there, your lack of identity is a real problem. Your don't have a posting history. You do not say what expertise you have in audio. You don't say how you came to listen to all of these systems, or under what limits of the conditions you heard them in. I find it implausible you could have fairly auditioned all of them, especially in the UK. You say nothing about the how limited your aural memory might be, or how it might be affecting your ratings (obviously you want us to believe your memory is some absolute standard of judgement). You present us with the golden ears fallacy when you say you can tell the difference between lossless HD and CD, and then you go on to say CD audio is compressed. I like how you mention your favored brand again and again in all-caps; this is a common technique in marketing, so one doesn't forget the brand name. If there wasn't a comparison involved with the other speakers, this would read exactly like a marketing brochure. Any of these would raise red flags for a guerrilla marketer, but taken altogether it looks pretty bad for you.
post #8 of 406
madboynutter - Lacking even a rudimentary effort at maintaining testing controls, claiming no need to bother listening to any other systems, combined with negatives of the Steinway Lyngdorf = none whatsoever, completely takes away from your credibility, in my opinion. I've checked your posting history in the three forums I am aware of that you posted this. Except for a few recent post here at AVS, you have no history.

You have done Steinway Lyngdorf no favors by posting this all over the WWW.
post #9 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by madboynutter View Post

Perhaps you might like to try reading it... this ain't no April Fool wink.gif
Ah, but it is. I read it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by madboynutter View Post

and accordingly my opinion, whilst professional, is entirely impartial and unbiased.
Sadly not only untrue, but impossible, despite your unawareness of such basic facts.
What follows.... smile.gif

cheers,

AJ

p.s. btw, I suspect no disingenuous or commercial intent. Which makes it funnier. Thanks wink.gif
post #10 of 406
Where was all this listening done? All stock pictures? Any pictures of the actual listening environment with the speakers?
post #11 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

p.s. btw, I suspect no disingenuous or commercial intent. Which makes it funnier. Thanks wink.gif

I am not so sure. He comes out of nowhere, spamming the WWW with this review.

- HTF. http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/322012/direct-comparison-unbiased-review-ranking-of-12-high-end-home-cinema-audio-systems
- HTS, where the thread has been deleted.
- AVS.

There may be other forums.
post #12 of 406
Give the guy a break. That was a massive amount of work put into this. I'm not sure my Dynaudio dealer would go to such lengths to make a sell.

I am not familiar from a sound perspective of most of these speakers but since Dynaudio Confidence is not included I find the tests null and void tongue.gif

Seriously though I will take another read and that was a lot of effort despite the typical AVS nonsense. Maybe if you had Salk at number one spot the guys here would chill (-:

I may pose some additional questions when I have read the article again and my veins are not pumping with 4th of July Bacardi n cokes!

Rick
post #13 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post

Give the guy a break. That was a massive amount of work put into this. I'm not sure my Dynaudio dealer would go to such lengths to make a sell.
I am not familiar from a sound perspective of most of these speakers but since Dynaudio Confidence is not included I find the tests null and void tongue.gif
Seriously though I will take another read and that was a lot of effort despite the typical AVS nonsense. Maybe if you had Salk at number one spot the guys here would chill (-:
I may pose some additional questions when I have read the article again and my veins are not pumping with 4th of July Bacardi n cokes!
Rick

+1 on the Salk comment.

But seriously, I have no idea if this guy is total BS or just was not an internet junkie and only recently decided to join and post this.

Consider 2 things though.

1) Why would a company whose products retail for such a high price really bother with such a form of marketing? Mosts posts here deal with much, much lower cost equipment.

2) If he is legit, kinda sucks to give him such a harsh welcome to AVS. Maybe he can provide some more info on where and when he conducted this experiment and also prove he is not a shill for Steinway.
post #14 of 406
I agree that is was a lot of work putting the pdf together. But when one titles such a review "Direct Comparison, Unbiased Review..." when it clearly is not a direct comparison or seemly unbiased, when it is spammed it all over the place, when the poster has no history or background in the places he posts this at... then skepticism is warranted. smile.gif

He clearly is not new to the internet, nor I suspect, to audio boards.
Edited by tesseract67 - 7/4/12 at 6:50pm
post #15 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

Consider 2 things though.
1) Why would a company whose products retail for such a high price really bother with such a form of marketing? Mosts posts here deal with much, much lower cost equipment.
2) If he is legit, kinda sucks to give him such a harsh welcome to AVS. Maybe he can provide some more info on where and when he conducted this experiment and also prove he is not a shill for Steinway.

+1

Seems like an awful lot of venom without really knowing what the whole story is.

In all honesty, I admit that some of it does strike me as a bit suspicious -- like why did the vocabulary and sentence phrasing get so much better during the Steinway review? -- but I'm at least willing to give him the benefit of the doubt so he can perhaps clarify a few things. Assuming he returns, of course.
post #16 of 406
I hope we do hear from the OP, lots of questions have been raised by this review, and should be expected by anyone taking the time to do this.

Not returning would explain things pretty well, too. wink.gif
post #17 of 406
He won't be back; his bluff has been called. Also, I don't think he should be given any credit whatsoever for his comparison. I doubt he heard all of the systems he claimed to, and more likely he heard none. Think about how difficult it would be to hear all of those high end setups in the UK- they wouldn't be very common or easy to hear in any US locality, let alone England. I'm guessing he looked at the specs and designs, and extrapolated from that any possible shortcomings that could be used against them (all horns are honky!) in order to promote his steinway products. I don't think it should be wrong to come in here and promote your products, but I do think it's wrong to misrepresent yourself as an impartial seeker of audio perfection in doing so, and its especially wrong to trash a bunch of other products which you have never heard in the process.
post #18 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by tesseract67 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

p.s. btw, I suspect no disingenuous or commercial intent. Which makes it funnier. Thanks wink.gif

I am not so sure. He comes out of nowhere, spamming the WWW with this review.

- HTF. http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/322012/direct-comparison-unbiased-review-ranking-of-12-high-end-home-cinema-audio-systems
- HTS, where the thread has been deleted.
- AVS.

There may be other forums.

it should probably be deleted here as well... as it really serves no purpose...
post #19 of 406
Bose Acoustimass cubes should be #1 on that list for sure. biggrin.gif

Absolutely positively unequivocally the best cinema system ever!

Unbiased. Triple blinded. No Quadruple blinded. eek.gif
post #20 of 406
Come on ADTG....everyone can hear that Pyle pro systems are light years ahead of Bose and should be #1. I mean EVERYONE!
post #21 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

Come on ADTG....everyone can hear that Pyle pro systems are light years ahead of Bose and should be #1. I mean EVERYONE!

Sorry. I'm slipping here. Okay, okay, Pyle #1 & Bose #2 - Quintuple blinded without an ounce of bias. No really. So much better than JBL Everest or Salon2. eek.gif

The Paradigm also sounds better than Everest & Salon2, by the way. Sextuple blinded. No septuple blinded.
Edited by AcuDefTechGuy - 7/5/12 at 6:34am
post #22 of 406
Assuming it had any to begin with, the review lost all credibility when I started reading systems like JBL's Everest were causing "ear fatigue" at reference levels.

Then in the Steinway review: "Limitless volume capability; will perform equally well in any size of room, even the largest room you can think of; and does not cause any ear fatigue whatsoever, even when played for prolonged periods and above Cinema Reference Levels."

Gosh, I wonder why that is. Oh, perhaps because it's compressing before it even hits reference levels, much less above that. Max SPL is 114dB at 1M as rated by Steinway, and that's assuming 900w being fed, while in the review it was only fed 400w. Again, rated numbers from Steinway- and if their own numbers don't add up, you can be sure the real world results aren't going to.
post #23 of 406
I tried to read the reviews with an open mind, but it was hard to take the reviews of horn loaded tweeters seriously when he/she kept referring to "honky" sound and basically dismissed all horn loaded tweeters, especially for home cinema where I find they tend to shine.

I also struggle with trying to rank and compare speakers to one another when they are all being heard in different rooms/spaces. The room and speaker placement are critical. The same speaker can sound diferent based on the room (size, placement of the speaker, acoustic treatment, etc). Ideally you would want all the speakers tested in the same room, with actual measurements taken as well.

There just seemed to be way too much personal bias thrown into the reviews and it was obvious the review had written off horn-loaded speakers right away. I have heard a variety of horn loaded tweeters (including some mentioned in this review) and "honky" and "inaccurate" is not a word I would use to describe them at all and could be more a reflection of the room and the bias of the reviewer.
post #24 of 406
Quote:
2) All audio systems were auditioned sitting in the primary listening position for the respective audio
system. This is a particularly important factor which is often overlooked when comparing audio
systems. In order to achieve a proper comparison it is important to eliminate listening position being
an influencing factor on audio quality.
Yeah, most reviewers sit off-axis, or in the worst seat in the house when doing reviews. rolleyes.gif

Instead of "sitting in the primary listening position for the respective audio system," how about setting each system up in the SAME ROOM and then listening from the SAME primary listening position? That would be a somewhat more "unbiased" review. As it is, we don't know *anything* about the room(s) these systems were auditioned in, nor how the systems were set up, and if any room correction was applied. Except, of course for the Steinway demo, where Steinway had the distinct advantage of being the "home team", with the advantage of imposing their room correction system:
Quote:
Suffice to say when I arrived at the UK’s STEINWAY LYNGDORF demonstration rooms at GECKO,
their UK distributor,...
Quote:
‘Room Perfect’ room equalisation; which STEINWAY LYNGDORF describes as “the most
advanced room adaptation technology available” and I must say that wholeheartedly concur.
rolleyes.gif

On a different tact, the "reviewer" strongly stated that he was "unbiased." No subjective reviewer is unbiased. They all bring their own biases to the table. In this case, the "reviewer" was clearly biased against horn loaded speakers. He called them all "honky." Honkiness in a speaker is related to a peaked midrange in the 800 Hz to 1.2 kHz range. Most of the speakers that he called "honky" don't even use a horn in that range. The Triad Platinums, for example, use a dispersion lens on the tweeter, which is 3rd order crossed to the midrange range drivers at 2.8 kHz, more than an octave above the "honk" range. The waveguided compression driver in the Procella P815 is 4th order crossed at 1.6K. The horn-loaded Klipsch KL-650-THX is crossed at 1.4 kHz. Only the JBL Everest System drives the midrange through a horn. I have heard all 4 of these horn-loaded speaker systems and NONE OF THEM SOUNDS IN THE LEAST BIT "HONKY". The "reviewer's" description of them as honky is clearly his bias.

In fact, I have heard 8 of the 12 systems he "reviewed," including the Steinway system, and I completely disagree with his assessment of every one of them. I heard the Steinway system in a hotel room at AXPONA in NY last year. At that show, Steinway didn't have the advantage of being the "home team". Their system sounded good, but it wasn't even close to being the best system at the show.

I don't know what this "reviewer's" agenda is, but it's abundantly clear that he has one.

Craig
post #25 of 406
I have owned and heard others, Let's just say I don't agree with him at all, I don't even need to hear the others he listed. The Klipsch THX ultra system which is great finished almost last in my HT comparison and the Triads I had tested would have been near the top in a more reflective or easier room for them. I can't even imagine the Plats losing to the Klipsch, ever! Except maybe the bass as the Klipsch subs are damn good and powerful to 15hz! I had JBL systems that trounced the Klipsch systems and the Synthesis is supposed to be better. I have owned M&K, Almost all of them, and the JBL's still win. My M&K's were better than the ones he listened too(If he did). I have heard the Paradigms in two separate HT rooms and they could not hit reference without distortion and compression in both rooms. After seeing his results I don't even need to hear the other speakers mentioned.
post #26 of 406
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I've just got in from work (it's 7:15pm here in the UK) and all I can say is WOW! Of course I expected there would be many questions, but had no idea my report would cause quite such a stir! eek.gif

I will most certainly endeavour to reply to all of you as soon as I can; however, please kindly note that I am working crazy long work hours at the moment... and NO I don't sell STEINWAY LYNGDORF!!! rolleyes.gif

I will make a start on giving you all the answers that you deserve as soon as I possibly can... however, this will likely have to be tomorrow (Friday) as I still have some work to finish off this evening and I've been up since 4:30am this morning! So, if you can please be a little patient with me that would be greatly appreciated, since there's an awful lot of replying to do... wink.gif
Edited by madboynutter - 7/5/12 at 12:13pm
post #27 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post

Give the guy a break. That was a massive amount of work put into this. I'm not sure my Dynaudio dealer would go to such lengths to make a sell.

I gave him a break, there were many other points of contention I wished to take up with the reviewer. But I had faith that others would pick up on these points, and they did. smile.gif How much "work" it took to put this together isn't a metric for how much respect or credibility it should get.
Quote:
Maybe if you had Salk at number one spot the guys here would chill (-:

Honestly, I don't think too many here would recommend Salk for a ne plus ultra home theater system, which is the focus of the review. Actually, you would see pretty much what we have here, now. I suspect you might even have something to say about that... eek.gif
post #28 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by madboynutter View Post

Hi Everyone,
I've just got in from work (it's 7:15pm here in the UK) and all I can say is WOW! Of course I expected there would be many questions, but had no idea my report would cause quite such a stir! eek.gif
I will most certainly endeavour to reply to all of you as soon as I can; however, please kindly note that I am working crazy long work hours at the moment... and NO I don't sell STEINWAY LYNGDORF!!! rolleyes.gif
I will make a start on giving you all the answers that you deserve as soon as I possibly can... however, this will likely have to be tomorrow (Friday) as I still have some work to finish off this evening and I've been up since 4:30am this morning! So, if you can please be a little patient with me that would be greatly appreciated, since there's an awful lot of replying to do... wink.gif

Looking forward to the details.
post #29 of 406
^^^

he might want to quit while the hole is only neck deep... wink.gif

capitals for steinway lyngdorf again... rolleyes.gif
post #30 of 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post
I also struggle with trying to rank and compare speakers to one another when they are all being heard in different rooms/spaces. The room and speaker placement are critical. The same speaker can sound diferent based on the room (size, placement of the speaker, acoustic treatment, etc). Ideally you would want all the speakers tested in the same room, with actual measurements taken as well.

Amen.

 

In addition, each system utilized different electronics, many of them with different EQ systems set up, undoubtedly, by different people.  There are way too many variables to justify drawing conclusions.


Edited by Kal Rubinson - 7/5/12 at 5:46pm
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