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NHT Absolute Tower vs PSB T6 vs Focal 814

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I recently picked up the Onkyo 818 receiver and need to get some speakers that will complement it. I am having a tough time deciding between the the following setups for my front:

NHT Absolute Tower/ThreeC Center; $1200 shipped
PSB T6 Tower/ C5 Center $1525 shipped
Focal 814v/814 Center - $1030 shipped

I will be using the speakers for 95%+ HT and TV with little to no music. I talked with John Johnsen from NHT who is an amazing guy and guided me toward the Towers that they had on sale that ends today and they seem to be really helpful with customer service if there is an issue. The PSB T6 get rave reviews but there is no where around here to listen to them and I would be taking a shot in the dark along with the Focal's. I can't seem to find a lot of reviews on the NHT but when I do they are all positive. The T6's would be pushing my budget as I still have to get a sub.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 30
Thread Starter 
Anyone have any thoughts on these?
post #3 of 30
I owned the PSB Image T6 speakers for 2 years, and I don't think the other two speakers are anywhere near as good.

I have since fallen in love with some more expensive speakers and moved on, but the Image T6 is a great speaker that I enjoyed listening to; never heard anything I didn't like.

They also have good solid bass down to 40 Hz, which the other two do not. The NHT are only rated down to 58 Hz and have 5" drivers; no bass there at all.

You will still probably want a sub in the long run, but the T6 speakers have enough bass that a subwoofer may not be something you have to have right away.

What area are you located in? I think you can get a much better price on those speakers from Saturday Audio Exchange if you are in the USA. They have new speakers with very minor cosmetic manufacturing defects that have full factory warranty for about 20% off.

There are also some retailers that have them for $1295 with free shipping...in the US.

Another deal that might be of interest is the iQ90 speakers from KEF Direct. They are almost as good as the ImageT6 speakers, and much better than the NHT or Focal IMO.

They are also marked down today from $1500 per pair to only $660 per pair!!!! This is one hell of a deal!!!! If I was in your shoes and could get those I would jump on it.

The KEF C6LCR center speaker goes for $279.
Edited by commsysman - 11/27/12 at 7:01am
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I owned the PSB Image T6 speakers for 2 years, and I don't think the other two speakers are anywhere near as good.
I have since fallen in love with some more expensive speakers and moved on, but the Image T6 is a great speaker that I enjoyed listening to; never heard anything I didn't like.
They also have good solid bass down to 40 Hz, which the other two do not. The NHT are only rated down to 58 Hz and have 5" drivers; no bass there at all.
You will still probably want a sub in the long run, but the T6 speakers have enough bass that a subwoofer may not be something you have to have right away.
What area are you located in? I think you can get a much better price on those speakers from Saturday Audio Exchange if you are in the USA. They have new speakers with very minor cosmetic manufacturing defects that have full factory warranty for about 20% off.
There are also some retailers that have them for $1295 with free shipping...in the US.
Another deal that might be of interest is the iQ90 speakers from KEF Direct. They are almost as good as the ImageT6 speakers, and much better than the NHT or Focal IMO.
They are also marked down today from $1500 per pair to only $660 per pair!!!! This is one hell of a deal!!!! If I was in your shoes and could get those I would jump on it.
The KEF C6LCR center speaker goes for $279.

I will check out the IQ90's since that price is awesome. How does the C6LCR match with those since the matching IQ60c center I can't find anywhere.

That price was from Saturday Audio shipped to me in Arkansas. He gave me the refurb price for new speakers.
post #5 of 30
I recommend the C6LCR center speaker in general. I find it to have the characteristics that a good center speaker should have. Another really good one is the Cambridge S50.

Some people think a center speaker should be larger; NO!

A center speaker. IMO, must be set to operate only from 120 Hz to 3000 Hz. The best center speakers IMO are those with 4" or perhaps 5" drivers.

You should NEVER get any bass from the center speaker; its role is to give good midrange clarity and that is all!

The iQ60 is not around because it is not very good...lol.

I had the KEF iQ9 speakers in one system at my old house for 5 years or so, and they were excellent; my wife even liked them better than the the T6. The iQ90 is essentially the same speaker with some minor improvements.
Edited by commsysman - 11/27/12 at 8:05am
post #6 of 30
Yikes! Some pretty poor advice in regards to the center channel.

The Kef and PSB speakers will have more bass, but if you use a good sub it's not that important. Plus with the PSBs you need a good 12 to 24 inches behind them to keep the bass from being bloated. The Kefs (front ported?) if not same issue. The NHTs are by far the easiest to place.

Crutchfield sells the PSB and NHT with 60 day return policy.
post #7 of 30
Commsysman,what are you running for speakers?
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I will check out the IQ90's since that price is awesome. How does the C6LCR match with those since the matching IQ60c center I can't find anywhere.

Do not fall into that weak/poor description of what a center channel only needs to do.
A good center channel will help balance and anchor the front dimensional stage. > A
good center channel will also have some bass, good mids and highs, and still will be
able to do a good job, with human voices.

For KEF to work better with your limited supplys of the iQ series, look for a coaxial
design speaker. The Q200 can work for you, and the iQ10 bookshelf speaker.

Also check out AC4L, for some KEF deals.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I recommend the C6LCR center speaker in general. I find it to have the characteristics that a good center speaker should have. Another really good one is the Cambridge S50.
Some people think a center speaker should be larger; NO!
A center speaker. IMO, must be set to operate only from 120 Hz to 3000 Hz. The best center speakers IMO are those with 4" or perhaps 5" drivers.
You should NEVER get any bass from the center speaker; its role is to give good midrange clarity and that is all!
The iQ60 is not around because it is not very good...lol.
I had the KEF iQ9 speakers in one system at my old house for 5 years or so, and they were excellent; my wife even liked them better than the the T6. The iQ90 is essentially the same speaker with some minor improvements.

It truly boggles my mind eek.gif

You seem to have been around audio for quite some time, have owned many good speakers, and frequently recommend good speakers...

...and yet you continuously provide this bizarre advice wrt. centre speakers rolleyes.gif

If one is interested in multi-channel audio, then the best possible system is 5 identical speakers - period. Anything else is a compromise.

If one is only interested in HT then one wants timbre matched front 3, and speakers that are capable of playing the full frequency range they are presented with. And the best way to do this is with three identical speakers across the front.

Do you seem to have some source of information that indicates that all movies ONLY send midrange frequencies to the centre channel?

I am willing to bet large $$$ that many (and quite possibly most) movies send significant amounts of sound to the centre channel that is both above and below the range that you claim "is all that it should" produce. Any system that is unable to produce these frequencies as well, will sound like sh*$#^t biggrin.gif

EDIT: I'd go even further and suggest that my front 3 (three iQ3), or what you could do today being 3 iQ30, crossed over to a sub at 80Hz would provide a superior HT experience than a pair of iQ90 with a S50 in the middle - by a long shot cool.gif
Edited by rick240 - 11/27/12 at 9:21am
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

For KEF to work better with your limited supplys of the iQ series, look for a coaxial design speaker. The Q200 can work for you, and the iQ10 bookshelf speaker.

I would suggest the iQ30 with the larger UniQ as opposed to the iQ10 - perfect timbre match to the larger drives in the 70 or 90.
post #11 of 30
I haven't heard all of the speakers you are choosing from. I can only give my impressions.
I have been listening to the NHT classic threes (5 of them) and the center, matched with two subs, crossed over at 80hz for about 3 years.
I find the NHT set up to be fairly neutral (similar in sound to my previous JBL studio monitors in the same room). For me, the NHT were the right size at the right price along with neutral sound.
My room is 1800 cubic feet, a relatively small rec room. The sound levels are sufficient being driven by a Pioneer Elite rated (optimistically?) for 125 watts per channel.
If you purchase any of the three and set everything up right, you will still need to suppliment with a sub. Maybe two depending on your room size. Good Luck.
post #12 of 30
I concur...I have never heard anyone else suggest that a "limited" center channel would be superior except commsysman! he has a lot of good advice, but this isn't one of them!
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 View Post

I would suggest the iQ30 with the larger UniQ as opposed to the iQ10 - perfect timbre match to the larger drives in the 70 or 90.

I agree, it is a better option. The iQ speakers are not easy to find.
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
I think I am going to skip on the Kef just because I am worried about not being able to find a good match with the center channel.

With the PSB I would have about 7-10 inches at most behind the speakers. Are they ported in the back that I need that much room behind them?

Are the NHT Towers going to be as good as the PSB towers? I like the Paradigm Monitor sound and don't want to be let down and don't want to get them just to send them back if I don't like them even though it is free return shipping. The wife wouldn't be too happy smile.gif

Since I will be using it for mostly for HT, is the PSB or NHT center better for HT?
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I recommend the C6LCR center speaker in general. I find it to have the characteristics that a good center speaker should have. Another really good one is the Cambridge S50.
Some people think a center speaker should be larger; NO!
A center speaker. IMO, must be set to operate only from 120 Hz to 3000 Hz. The best center speakers IMO are those with 4" or perhaps 5" drivers.
You should NEVER get any bass from the center speaker; its role is to give good midrange clarity and that is all!

The iQ60 is not around because it is not very good...lol.
I had the KEF iQ9 speakers in one system at my old house for 5 years or so, and they were excellent; my wife even liked them better than the the T6. The iQ90 is essentially the same speaker with some minor improvements.

How can one post be so wrong about center channel speakers?

Commsysman, why do you keep posting this? Repeating it for the 100th time makes it no more accurate than the 1st time.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I think I am going to skip on the Kef just because I am worried about not being able to find a good match with the center channel.
With the PSB I would have about 7-10 inches at most behind the speakers. Are they ported in the back that I need that much room behind them?
Are the NHT Towers going to be as good as the PSB towers? I like the Paradigm Monitor sound and don't want to be let down and don't want to get them just to send them back if I don't like them even though it is free return shipping. The wife wouldn't be too happy smile.gif
Since I will be using it for mostly for HT, is the PSB or NHT center better for HT?

Paradigm is not bad - however, I much prefer the Focal, then PSB and NHT is still nice.
With that said, I do prefer PSB over Paradigm.

Focal and PSB are front ported.
post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

Paradigm is not bad - however, I much prefer the Focal, then PSB and NHT is still nice.
With that said, I do prefer PSB over Paradigm.
Focal and PSB are front ported.

Would you jump on the Focal 814v deal that A4L still has over the PSB's? I am just worried since i can't really find any reviews on the Focal's and they might not be the best for HT or too bright/harsh to my ear. The PSB's have a bunch of great reviews and are highly regarded.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 View Post

If one is interested in multi-channel audio, then the best possible system is 5 identical speakers - period. Anything else is a compromise.
If one is only interested in HT then one wants timbre matched front 3, and speakers that are capable of playing the full frequency range they are presented with. And the best way to do this is with three identical speakers across the front.
Do you seem to have some source of information that indicates that all movies ONLY send midrange frequencies to the centre channel?
I am willing to bet large $$$ that many (and quite possibly most) movies send significant amounts of sound to the centre channel that is both above and below the range that you claim "is all that it should" produce. Any system that is unable to produce these frequencies as well, will sound like sh*$#^t biggrin.gif
EDIT: I'd go even further and suggest that my front 3 (three iQ3), or what you could do today being 3 iQ30, crossed over to a sub at 80Hz would provide a superior HT experience than a pair of iQ90 with a S50 in the middle - by a long shot cool.gif

When determining what center I should get for my next system, my dad suggested I unplug my sub and my front speakers and listen to a movie (I did, which was Lord of the Rings). I listened to the same portion with just the center, then the center + front speakers and then just the fronts. I was amazed at how much BASS and overall sound was coming out of the center compared to the mains. It was at least 80% and at one point of the movie (a heavy bass scene) the mains didnt even play the bass while the center did.

So, with that easy test it was clear to see how much work the center channel does and how you would like it to hit lower frequencies (it's a myth to believe the center just does vocals).

I would recommend all people do a similar test to get a better feeling of what the center is doing.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

Would you jump on the Focal 814v deal that A4L still has over the PSB's? I am just worried since i can't really find any reviews on the Focal's and they might not be the best for HT or too bright/harsh to my ear. The PSB's have a bunch of great reviews and are highly regarded.

There is no guarantee how any speaker will sound to you - I have sensitive ears, and the
Focal Chorus do not sound sharp/edgy or harsh to me. I believe that they have one of the
better overall tweeters around. I also favor them for their detail, definition and depth.

The Focal is fine and good, for music and movies. >> A good speaker is not bias towards
music or movies. Now if you are really a head-banger, or Imax type sounding person, and
want true hard hitting reference levels, then skip the Focal and PSB.

Only you can decide what to buy, PSB is a good option, and you will still come out a winner.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

They also have good solid bass down to 40 Hz, which the other two do not. The NHT are only rated down to 58 Hz and have 5" drivers; no bass there at all.

I love me some PSB, but with the difference in the true "street" prices between the T6s and the NHT Towers, he could also get a NHT B10-d sub (or apply those saved $$$ to some other sub or subs of his choice), which will crush the T6s. Even without a sub, the Towers are sealed compared to the ported T6s and still have an f10 of like 42 Hz or something like that IIRC.

Also, he one could upgrade the w-t-w 2-way Absolute Center to the w-t/m-w 3-way Classic 2C for very little money, thus giving the NHTs a clear edge there as well IMO.
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

I love me some PSB, but with the difference in the true "street" prices between the T6s and the NHT Towers, he could also get a NHT B10-d sub (or apply those saved $$$ to some other sub or subs of his choice), which will crush the T6s. Also, he one could upgrade the w-t-w 2-way Absolute Center to the w-t/m-w 3-way Classic 2C for very little money, thus giving the NHTs a clear edge there as well IMO.

I did have the ThreeC Center in the $1200 price right now. I have read that the absolute towers can sound "muddy" which I don't know how accurate it is. But I could get that whole system shipped for $1700 or go the Focal route for $1500. Focal just makes me nervous.

How is the NHT sound?
post #22 of 30
"They also have good solid bass down to 40 Hz, which the other two do not. The NHT are only rated down to 58 Hz and have 5" drivers; no bass there at all."


I wouldn't go that far, and NHT still has it's black Friday sale going on. The absolute tower also has a smaller footprint and being sealed will potentially be easier to place in your room.

I don't recall any talk of NHT's being "muddy" sounding... That sounds to me like some other factors may be at play. In addition I found this quote on NHT's site for the towers "Get 2 Free $100 NHT e-Gift Cards with the purchase of 2 Absolute Tower speakers".. However this on not on the black Friday page where the towers are listed. though if it is on the site I would imagine you could hold them to it.
Edited by unbridled_id - 11/27/12 at 1:14pm
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I did have the ThreeC Center in the $1200 price right now. I have read that the absolute towers can sound "muddy" which I don't know how accurate it is. But I could get that whole system shipped for $1700 or go the Focal route for $1500. Focal just makes me nervous.
How is the NHT sound?

If your nervous, then you are nervous

NHT has an overall nice sound character - as far as reviews, they are subjective. Do not
buy speakers based on some review alone. Also with a subwoofer, how low a tower will
go, is not an overall big deal. However, PSB does have nice dynamics, and NHT will not
sound wimpy. If you can not decide, then flip a coin.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I did have the ThreeC Center in the $1200 price right now. I have read that the absolute towers can sound "muddy" which I don't know how accurate it is. But I could get that whole system shipped for $1700 or go the Focal route for $1500. Focal just makes me nervous.
How is the NHT sound?

Oops! Made a mistake on the PSBs, they are front ported. They seem to be a very nice set of speakers. The matching center seems kind of ordinary though.
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I did have the ThreeC Center in the $1200 price right now. I have read that the absolute towers can sound "muddy" which I don't know how accurate it is. But I could get that whole system shipped for $1700 or go the Focal route for $1500. Focal just makes me nervous.
How is the NHT sound?

The Towers are most definitely not muddy IMO. In fact, I have heard the previous top of the line PSB Stratus Goldi, and I feel it is "muddy" when compared to the NHT Towers FWIW, but that's not to say that you might not like the PSB's sound better though. IIRC, Stereophile has measured both the T6s and Absolute Towers, so you can compare apples to apples objective data between the two speakers as to how they stack up against each other. Not the be all, end all final decision maker by any means, but important nonetheless.
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by taje View Post

I did have the ThreeC Center in the $1200 price right now. I have read that the absolute towers can sound "muddy" which I don't know how accurate it is. But I could get that whole system shipped for $1700 or go the Focal route for $1500. Focal just makes me nervous.
How is the NHT sound?

Any chance you could listen to the NHT's ? I know they still have a dealer network and also have a generous return policy if purchased from the website.
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
I think I am going to go ahead and get the NHT Setup and if I really don't like it they have free return shipping and I can get the PSB's. For the same $ I can add on a sub which is a big plus. I talked with John from NHT and he is amazing which is good to know if I would ever have a problem.

Thanks for all of the help!
post #28 of 30
Taje, did you get your NHTs? I'm running a couple of Absolute Towers with an 818 right now (with old NHT 1.5s for the surrounds and an NHT CS2, I think, for the center.) I would suggest that you give the towers a little burn-in time. When I first got them, I replaced my NHT 2.5s in the front and, frankly, found the Absolute Towers a bit harsh. I moved them into position as width speakers and put the 2.5s back in. Just recently, I was tinkering and put the towers back in the front and found that harshness gone.

In my theater, I've also found it important (as with all speakers) to experiment with their placement. Try various distances from the rear and side walls, as well as from your main listening position, and experiment with toe-in to find the optimum location.

The Absolute Towers are definitely NOT tubby (they very clearly define the plucked bass in jazz recordings when properly located in the room) and they have lots of detail. They can be brutal on poor content. They'll make a treble-edgy MP3 sound like the Wicked Witch of the West.
post #29 of 30
Hi taje, can you post your impressions of the Absolute Towers? I purchased the Absolute 5.1 package, which includes the Absolute Towers for fronts, and they're sitting in storage waiting for my home renovation to be completed. I'm very anxious to hear what they sound like. I bought them before really delving into this forum, and was kind of expecting more people on here to have them....
post #30 of 30
Update? How do you like your NHT speakers?
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