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Price vs performance in bookshelf speakers

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
In general, what differences in SOUND/MUSICALITY are noticed in bookshelf speakers as the price increases ( say , from $500/pr to $1000/pr to $2500/pr to $5000/pr or more) ?

What components make the most noticeable difference in sound playback quality ( imagimg/coherence/soundstage/ low- and high- level dynamics, etc)?


Is there so vast a difference in sound experience between , say, the Arx A1bs at $300/pr (which I have and love) and the upgraded Ascend Sierra-1 with NRT ( or even RAAL) tweeter at $1000/pr , to say one would be missing something important? How about between the aforementioned Ascend Sierra-1s and Dynaudio Contour 1.4s at $3300/pr, or Evolution MM Micro Ones at $2500/pr ( or countless others)?

( I am thinking about upgrading my Ascend CBM-170SEs to one of the Sierra bookshelfs - maybe waiting for the Sierra-2? - and am curious to know what I would be gaining. I am not a serious audiophile, and use my system to mostly play Bluray discs from Family Video and watch TV in a (current) 2.0 system, alternating between the 170SEs and Arx A1bs as my mood changes).
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

In general, what differences in SOUND/MUSICALITY are noticed in bookshelf speakers as the price increases (say , from $500/pr to $1000/pr to $2500/pr to $5000/pr or more) ?

What components make the most noticeable difference in sound playback quality ( imagimg/coherence/soundstage/ low- and high- level dynamics, etc)?


Is there so vast a difference in sound experience between , say, the Arx A1bs at $300/pr (which I have and love) and the upgraded Ascend Sierra-1 with NRT ( or even RAAL) tweeter at $1000/pr , to say one would be missing something important? How about between the aforementioned Ascend Sierra-1s and Dynaudio Contour 1.4s at $3300/pr, or Evolution MM Micro Ones at $2500/pr ( or countless others)?

( I am thinking about upgrading my Ascend CBM-170SEs to one of the Sierra bookshelfs - maybe waiting for the Sierra-2? - and am curious to know what I would be gaining. I am not a serious audiophile, and use my system to mostly play Bluray discs from Family Video and watch TV in a (current) 2.0 system, alternating between the 170SEs and Arx A1bs as my mood changes).

This is a great question. If I were to give a general statement to simplify things I would say that you would gain clarity, lightness/ease of sound, output, imaging, etc. Going from a $300 speaker to a $1,000 speaker tends to make it seem like the $300 piece is heavy and laboring. Like someone has a thick blanket over it. And then, as models get more expensive, that blanket comes off.

But that is really over generalizing because there are layers upon layers to it, for sure. There is no standard rule of thumb when comparing different brands and what constitutes "a difference". Within the same brand, however, you can see similarities within series of different speakers in some brands and then sometimes drastic changes between the lines in others. Personally, I try to stay away from lines like this for the most part because that trend is often dictated by a marketing department, rather than engineering. I always look for what I call linear lines. A manufacturer who, from top to bottom, uses the same materials or principles in engineering a product rather than design backwards, using a target price as a starting point.

When it comes to tone or voicing, you can take several speakers from the same line as say, Martin Logan's Motion series, and essentially get the same quality out of them tonally all the up and all the way down the line. So, I would say that quality will be determined by listening levels, content, and the size of your room.

Here is another example: ADAM-Audio's GTC series. They have 3 different models, but they are all essentially going to carry the same voicing qualities. A serious difference is DB output at the listening position in different sized rooms.

Atlantic Technology holds this general rule of thumb to be true between their speakers as well. Their speakers are designed to sound similar, with the main basis of choice supposed to be hinged upon room size.

Now, lets take a brand like Canton. Canton uses similar materials in a lot of their speakers between series. A big difference ends up being cabinet construction. This yields incremental steps up in sound quality, but larger steps up in furniture grade and appearance. That being said, if you want to compare a Chrono 503.2 to a Reference 9.2DC, that difference will be substantial all the way around. But, there are many steps in the line between those two to even get to that point. The curve of change is gradual with the price difference between some of the speakers to be around $300 a pair and on and on. All of their speakers are built incredibly well (I think it's impossible to find a BETTER manufactured speaker) and so I would, for the most part, consider Canton to be a pretty linear line.

KEF, Tannoy, Paradigm, Klipsch, B&W, Sonance, Episode, Jamo, Velodyne, and on and on all fall into what I would call staggered lines. Quality varies along the way from entry level to top-end.

These are definitely not consistent, linear lines. If I were to ask what characteristics make up a B&W speaker I think people would start naming off some great qualities almost always centered around the 800 series or Nautilus - which are hallmark products for the brand. The rub is that those qualities would not adhere to half or more of B&W's model makeup. Same way with all of the ones I mentioned above.

Martin Logan recently kind of walks a fine line. They have two distinctly different types of speaker: Motion & Electrostatic. But within those two types, what they are and how they are engineered is consistent.

Lines that I think are very linear are BG Radia, Phase Technology, JL Audio, Atlantic Technology, Canton, Snell (sad to say), Parasound (as much as an electronics mfg. can be), GoldenEar, and lots and lots of others.

So, yeah, it's tough to generalize what really changes between speakers at different price points. As soon as I would find one model as an example, I would think of several that disprove it. Too many variables and not enough linear manufacturing.
post #3 of 22
That depends on what they did with the money. Perhaps they put in a better woofer and extended the bottom end. Perhaps they improved the crossover and with it the off-axis performance. Perhaps they moved from a dome to a ribbon and got a lower specific impulse time. Perhaps they added a midrange and went three-way.

No one answer. But generally the three directions any speaker can go are "better" , "louder" , and "lower".
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Plex - A very detailed and revealing response - thanks...

Jerry - A very concise and meaningful response - thanks also.....for bookshelf speakers, I would think "better" would rank higher than "louder" or "lower" if one were to consider purchasing high-end speakers ( > $2000/pr) ( although at that price, one probably gets all 3).

Another thought....if one WERE to purchase these high-end speakers, would that not require one to upgrade all source material ( DAC/ CD player/ Bluray player/ possibly receiver or amplifier/ SACD or other high-grade recording sources) to "take advantage" of the speakers' increased abilities, thus greatly increasing the overall cost of the upgrade?

Maybe I need to go to one of the regional speaker GTG events to find out what I'm "missing"........but that would require time off from work, family, etc..........who's able to do that? rolleyes.gif
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

Jerry - A very concise and meaningful response - thanks also.....for bookshelf speakers, I would think "better" would rank higher than "louder" or "lower" if one were to consider purchasing high-end speakers ( > $2000/pr) ( although at that price, one probably gets all 3).

You start with all three and you end with all three. It's all a matter of degrees. In the end there is some physics involved that will force trade offs at any price. Speakers are about compromise.

I should not have said "better". I should have said "flatter".

So if your speakers are 88db sensitive, and you want to listen at 110db (@1m, which is as low as 98db @4m), you likely have a problem. Suddenly adding efficiency is the best thing you can do for your experience.

OTOH: If you are not having a problem with volume (and are not clipping at volume) then "flatter" would seem to be the obvious goal.

I personally think "lower" is almost always a mistake on bookshelves. They should be crossed to a sub. Lower might be a consequence of some other desire (like using a 3-way bookshelf to avoid doppler problems), but I just cannot support it as a design goal for most applications.
Quote:
Another thought....if one WERE to purchase these high-end speakers, would that not require one to upgrade all source material ( DAC/ CD player/ Bluray player/ possibly receiver or amplifier/ SACD or other high-grade recording sources) to "take advantage" of the speakers' increased abilities, thus greatly increasing the overall cost of the upgrade?

Psycho-somatic effects aside: "no".

Assuming the amp is "sufficient", and nothing is defective, the only pieces that seem to make any difference are: speakers (including placement), room (treatments, shape, etc), and source (meaning "which CD", not "which CD-Player"). As we start getting into some fringe examples (old, low bit-rate, MP3's), or deliberate coloration (overdriven tube-amps) there are exceptions.
Quote:
Maybe I need to go to one of the regional speaker GTG events to find out what I'm "missing"........but that would require time off from work, family, etc..........who's able to do that?

The same people who have time to go to the store and setup speakers and actually listen to them? I'm not sure what a couple hours on a single day will cost you. :shrug:
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

Plex - A very detailed and revealing response - thanks...

Jerry - A very concise and meaningful response - thanks also.....for bookshelf speakers, I would think "better" would rank higher than "louder" or "lower" if one were to consider purchasing high-end speakers ( > $2000/pr) ( although at that price, one probably gets all 3).

Another thought....if one WERE to purchase these high-end speakers, would that not require one to upgrade all source material ( DAC/ CD player/ Bluray player/ possibly receiver or amplifier/ SACD or other high-grade recording sources) to "take advantage" of the speakers' increased abilities, thus greatly increasing the overall cost of the upgrade?

Maybe I need to go to one of the regional speaker GTG events to find out what I'm "missing"........but that would require time off from work, family, etc..........who's able to do that? rolleyes.gif

These are great questions and Jerry really touched on a good part of it when he talked about source or "which CD". I refer to this as "content". We have various degrees of different speakers at different price points ranging from electrostatics, planar magnetic drivers, soft dome, etc. There are types of speakers that are forgiving to your content or "source material", just like some that are forgiving of power levels from the amp, and there are speakers that are absolutely brutal to it. What I mean by that is if you go with something incredibly detailed like a PMD driver or electrostatic you need to use high quality source material (and, typically better power sources) or else things will get ugly quick.

A great example of this is streaming Rhapsody through a Sonos player. As far as streaming content goes there are some things on Rhapsody that are very well done and there are others that are absolute junk. This difference is huge on certain types of speakers and less offensive on others. I find that soft dome based speakers are a great compromise between high output & low distortion on a versatile quality of material. You won't hear the absolute finest in resolution on content that offers it, but you also don't hear the nasty side of it, either, when something is done poorly. Another example of this is a decent CD vs. listening to a music channel off of a cable box.

The above is just one side to it. There are so so so many others. When people ask me, "What's the best speaker?" I respond with a question... "For what?" and then have a lot of qualifying questions following that.
post #7 of 22
The are hundreds of differences in the construction of speaker drivers; lightweight aluminum wire for voice coils are used in Dynaudio speakers, for example, to improve transient response and power-handling (along with many other technical innovations).

The Dynaudio Confidence C1 speakers are probably the finest-sounding bookshelf/monitor speakers I have ever personally heard. Their ability to do everything well is astounding. Of course they will cost you around $8000 including their stands.

One amazing value is the Gallo Acoustics CL-2, which for $800 per pair will do about 90% of what the Dynaudios will do. I think they are some of the best by far for under $2000. They use a unique patented tweeter that is made of a special material and has exceptionally good sound and wide dispersion. They also use carbon fiber drivers and special patented transmission-line loading for superior bass from their size. They would be a steal at twice their price.

I would advise anyone shopping for an under-$2000 bookshelf/monitor speaker to order a pair of the Gallos and listen to them for a month. You can do so for FREE, for a 60-day trial period.. They pay shipping both ways if you return them, so you don't spend a penny.

I think it's a safe bet that they get very few returned.

I think most people are blown away by the excellent sound available from them for a relatively low factory-direct price. Dynaudio and Anthony Gallo are way ahead of many other companies in design and technical innovation IMO.

It is certainly true that the sound is dependent on the source; garbage in, garbage out.

The OPPO BDP-95 and the new BDP-105 are so technically advanced in their DAC circuits compared to what was available 5 or 10 years ago that they have turned the CD/SACD playing field on its head. There are lots of companies right now that are offering $5000 CD players that can't touch the sound quality of the OPPO players. Time for them to go back to the drawing board.

Eight years ago I spent $6000 on the Ayre C5xe player because it was stunningly good; the best you could get then. My BDP-95, which I bought for $1000, actually sounds slightly better.

Even the $500 BDP-103 is very very good; nothing else in its price range can come close to it.

If you don't have one of the OPPO players, you are definitely going to hear a substantial improvement by getting one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

In general, what differences in SOUND/MUSICALITY are noticed in bookshelf speakers as the price increases ( say , from $500/pr to $1000/pr to $2500/pr to $5000/pr or more) ?

What components make the most noticeable difference in sound playback quality ( imagimg/coherence/soundstage/ low- and high- level dynamics, etc)?


Is there so vast a difference in sound experience between , say, the Arx A1bs at $300/pr (which I have and love) and the upgraded Ascend Sierra-1 with NRT ( or even RAAL) tweeter at $1000/pr , to say one would be missing something important? How about between the aforementioned Ascend Sierra-1s and Dynaudio Contour 1.4s at $3300/pr, or Evolution MM Micro Ones at $2500/pr ( or countless others)?

( I am thinking about upgrading my Ascend CBM-170SEs to one of the Sierra bookshelfs - maybe waiting for the Sierra-2? - and am curious to know what I would be gaining. I am not a serious audiophile, and use my system to mostly play Bluray discs from Family Video and watch TV in a (current) 2.0 system, alternating between the 170SEs and Arx A1bs as my mood changes).

Edited by commsysman - 3/26/13 at 8:10am
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Plex - thanks again for your response......interesting comment about soft dome tweeters being "best compromise" between high output and low distortion.................definitely know I don't want electrostatics for my purposes.......

Jerry - very detailed followup about what really matters as far as sound quality goes......thanks. A "sufficient" amp probably means different things to different people, esp ones who wish to play their material at the limits of their speakers..........not me...but I get what you mean here.......

Commsysman - thanks for sharing your experience with 2 fine speakers.........might have to think about getting those Gallo CL-2s to try ............
post #9 of 22
Great info in this thread
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

Plex - thanks again for your response......interesting comment about soft dome tweeters being "best compromise" between high output and low distortion.................definitely know I don't want electrostatics for my purposes.......

Jerry - very detailed followup about what really matters as far as sound quality goes......thanks. A "sufficient" amp probably means different things to different people, esp ones who wish to play their material at the limits of their speakers..........not me...but I get what you mean here.......

Commsysman - thanks for sharing your experience with 2 fine speakers.........might have to think about getting those Gallo CL-2s to try ............

Please keep in mind that what I mean by that is that they are forgiving to the source, not that they are necessarily the best driver. It's just a variable to consider. They tend to be easier to drive as well. Some definate benefits and draw backs to soft domes and domes in general. It all depends on the intended uses.

Some designs, like Dali, use hybrid designs as well.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

Please keep in mind that what I mean by that is that they are forgiving to the source, not that they are necessarily the best driver. It's just a variable to consider. They tend to be easier to drive as well. Some definate benefits and draw backs to soft domes and domes in general. It all depends on the intended uses.

Some designs, like Dali, use hybrid designs as well.

Good point to consider..........

Follow-up question........if one were to purchase said speakers PRIMARILY for DVD/Blluray playback from RENTAL sources (as opposed to purchased/ owned sources) , then would one type of tweeter ( soft dome, rare earth metal dome, planar magnetic driver/ ribbon, RAAL, other) be preferred?

I tend to get the impression RAAL tweeters have excellent qualities in resolution for music but may be "overkill" in a mostly movie/TV environment........


Another area of inquiry........as most novice AV enthusiasts try to "simplify" things by getting an all-purpose AV receiver with enough hookups for all of the "gear" ( TV, CD/SACD/DVD/Bluray player, game console, MP3/ USB playback source, speakers, other) and enough features to avoid obsolescence in the near future ( DAC, Internet radio/Pandora, 4K passthrough ability, multizone capability, ENOUGH HDMI SLOTS, etc.), and as most all of these receivers are rated for 8 ohm and possibly for 6 ohm speakers, but not specifically for 4 ohm speakers, should this limit the search for the "holy grail of speaker" to those 6/8 ohm speakers, as one runs the risk of overloading the amplifier and activating protection circuits with 4 ohm speakers and thus not being able to power them effectively for one's use? ............... ( realize that I do NOT intend any speaker system to be played at reference levels in my house, lest I lose more of my already-reduced hearing ).............
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

Good point to consider..........

Follow-up question........if one were to purchase said speakers PRIMARILY for DVD/Blluray playback from RENTAL sources (as opposed to purchased/ owned sources) , then would one type of tweeter ( soft dome, rare earth metal dome, planar magnetic driver/ ribbon, RAAL, other) be preferred?

I tend to get the impression RAAL tweeters have excellent qualities in resolution for music but may be "overkill" in a mostly movie/TV environment........


Another area of inquiry........as most novice AV enthusiasts try to "simplify" things by getting an all-purpose AV receiver with enough hookups for all of the "gear" ( TV, CD/SACD/DVD/Bluray player, game console, MP3/ USB playback source, speakers, other) and enough features to avoid obsolescence in the near future ( DAC, Internet radio/Pandora, 4K passthrough ability, multizone capability, ENOUGH HDMI SLOTS, etc.), and as most all of these receivers are rated for 8 ohm and possibly for 6 ohm speakers, but not specifically for 4 ohm speakers, should this limit the search for the "holy grail of speaker" to those 6/8 ohm speakers, as one runs the risk of overloading the amplifier and activating protection circuits with 4 ohm speakers and thus not being able to power them effectively for one's use? ............... ( realize that I do NOT intend any speaker system to be played at reference levels in my house, lest I lose more of my already-reduced hearing ).............

1 - BluRay movies are great sources as far as how much care typically goes into mastering the sound tracks. So, for this type of source, I would say go all out to your heart's (or wallet's) wildest desires.

2 - Here is my experience regarding ohms & receivers: Many name brand receiver models can handle 4ohm loads. Usually these are not the bargain basement $300 models, but $600 and up IN A NON DIGITAL AMP MODEL (such as the Marantz NR-14/1603) & I think you can find a lot of models that will do it just fine. Most won't SAY they will in the specs, but they do it just fine. Denon's are great at this. Marantz's $800 & up models are strong. A few years ago I would have said Onkyo is one to consider, but it's crap now unless you're getting into big money but then it's still just a competitive product..

Strangely, I have always shied away from Yamaha but I am considering bringing it on as our main receiver line even after doing Marantz and Denon for years. Their rep is getting me three samples to try at various price points (one from their RX-V and two Aventage) for us to screw around with and I'll decide based on those. In looking at the receiver photos I saw that Yamaha's entry level Aventage receiver, the RX-A710 at $649, has printed on the back "Front: 4 ohm , Rear: 6 ohm". To me. this says that Yamaha is building a robust product with a good power supply and amplifier. I would feel perfectly fine using 4 ohm speakers on this receiver and the models above it. Also, the Aventage receivers all provide power ratings for 8/6/4/2 ohm loads under "Specs" on their website.

NOTE: The video processing on the RX-A720 is better than the 710 and more than likely worth the extra $50. I used the 710 as a low cost example.

This does not mean that Marantz or Denon NOT putting that on their receivers means they can't do 4 ohm. They have done it just fine for me on multiple projects.
post #13 of 22
You get diminishing returns from pretty much everything, I mean, if you spend $500 on a TV vs $1000, vs $5000, it's about the same analogy as with audio; you get bigger, better components, but also the profit margin goes up exponentially because cost of manufacturing the more expensive components only goes up slightly whereas cost growth is hyperinflated.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrallite View Post

You get diminishing returns from pretty much everything, I mean, if you spend $500 on a TV vs $1000, vs $5000, it's about the same analogy as with audio; you get bigger, better components, but also the profit margin goes up exponentially because cost of manufacturing the more expensive components only goes up slightly whereas cost growth is hyperinflated.
Margins aren't the reason.

Actually, your return per-dollar (depending on measurement) generally goes up for a while at the beginning. Then starts to drop; because the cost to improve past a point goes up approaces infinity where the room for improvement does not.

What does it take to go from a car with a top speed of 50mph to one with a top speed of 100mph? It's relatively simple and compared to the overall cost of just making a car quite cheap.

What does it take to go from a car which does 150mph to one which does 300mph? No one has ever figured out how to build a road car that does the latter, and the costs would be insane. It's just that hard to do.

It's worse with speakers.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Margins aren't the reason.

Actually, your return per-dollar (depending on measurement) generally goes up for a while at the beginning. Then starts to drop; because the cost to improve past a point goes up approaces infinity where the room for improvement does not.

What does it take to go from a car with a top speed of 50mph to one with a top speed of 100mph? It's relatively simple and compared to the overall cost of just making a car quite cheap.

What does it take to go from a car which does 150mph to one which does 300mph? No one has ever figured out how to build a road car that does the latter, and the costs would be insane. It's just that hard to do.

It's worse with speakers.

Jerry, where do think that price -break point is for bookshelf speakers? For the average enthusiast ( not the Bill Gateses of the world)?
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Margins aren't the reason.

Actually, your return per-dollar (depending on measurement) generally goes up for a while at the beginning. Then starts to drop; because the cost to improve past a point goes up approaces infinity where the room for improvement does not.

What does it take to go from a car with a top speed of 50mph to one with a top speed of 100mph? It's relatively simple and compared to the overall cost of just making a car quite cheap.

What does it take to go from a car which does 150mph to one which does 300mph? No one has ever figured out how to build a road car that does the latter, and the costs would be insane. It's just that hard to do.

It's worse with speakers.

Margins are very important. Also every company has a different cost curve. There's a reason why small start ups are becoming successful in mature industries. A small company that goes on public fundraising for a couple million for example can hire 50 people make a great video game without huge publisher overhead, whereas a big publisher spends about 200-250 million dollars and has 400 programmers and ends up with an inferior product.

Big companies with big salaries growing year in and year out start become elephants. Just this year, Square Enix, a publisher, was disappointed a video game ONLY sold 3.5 million copies in 1 month (210 million dollars in revenue) and has to do major cutbacks because they can't pay off the loans made to fund the development cost, whereas small indie games with 1/100th of funding can make a better product. One of the main differences is, the little company is paying 40,000 a year and has 1/10th of the middle management while the big company has 5 managers for every programmer and each of them is making six figures.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrallite View Post

Margins are very important. Also every company has a different cost curve. There's a reason why small start ups are becoming successful in mature industries. A small company that goes on public fundraising for a couple million for example can hire 50 people make a great video game without huge publisher overhead, whereas a big publisher spends about 200-250 million dollars and has 400 programmers and ends up with an inferior product.

You've just said that the costs of production, not the profit margins, are the problem for big companies producing games.

Of course, we aren't discussing company size (and BTW large companies benefit from economy of scale: try building a Corolla competitor sometime), and we aren't discussing video games: we are discussing price/performance for bookshelf speakers.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

Jerry, where do think that price -break point is for bookshelf speakers? For the average enthusiast ( not the Bill Gateses of the world)?

That depends on your relative valuation of SQ and money. There's actually some very good entry-level gear. Pioneer's BS-22, Behringer's 2030P, Infinity's P163. All of these are excellent choices in the <$100 category. Below these: I think there's nothing that carries the same value.

So where's the peak of the curve? Some might place that peak right there. I think the latest you can possibly place it for a 2-way bookshelf (and ignoring costs for aesthetic choices) is somewhere around $600/ea. At that point we are discussing RAAL ribbon tweeters (and competitors) and high-quality midranges (don't get suckered in to paying more for LF extension if you are going to be using a sub). Aesthetic considerations might put that same speaker closer to $800ea. (think: Salk Song-Surround-RT, or perhaps Philharmonic's new bookshelf)

There are a few very reasonable spots in-between to call "best price/performance", but it's so subjective I'm not sure it's worth trying to detail each.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

You've just said that the costs of production, not the profit margins, are the problem for big companies producing games.

Of course, we aren't discussing company size (and BTW large companies benefit from economy of scale: try building a Corolla competitor sometime), and we aren't discussing video games: we are discussing price/performance for bookshelf speakers.

You missed the other part--large companies also have a ton of middle management and this ends up suppressing ideas compared a small company. Ideas that might seem great but get shot down because "it's not the way we do things" whereas a small company can take chances with emerging technology or new theories.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

That depends on your relative valuation of SQ and money. There's actually some very good entry-level gear. Pioneer's BS-22, Behringer's 2030P, Infinity's P163. All of these are excellent choices in the <$100 category. Below these: I think there's nothing that carries the same value.

So where's the peak of the curve? Some might place that peak right there. I think the latest you can possibly place it for a 2-way bookshelf (and ignoring costs for aesthetic choices) is somewhere around $600/ea. At that point we are discussing RAAL ribbon tweeters (and competitors) and high-quality midranges (don't get suckered in to paying more for LF extension if you are going to be using a sub). Aesthetic considerations might put that same speaker closer to $800ea. (think: Salk Song-Surround-RT, or perhaps Philharmonic's new bookshelf)

There are a few very reasonable spots in-between to call "best price/performance", but it's so subjective I'm not sure it's worth trying to detail each.

So $1000-1500/pr...............about what I'm considering if I upgrade to the NrT Sierra-1s...........among others.....Thanks!
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by padgman1 View Post

So $1000-1500/pr...............about what I'm considering if I upgrade to the NrT Sierra-1s...........among others.....Thanks!


How big is the room?

What is the largest speaker you would consider a "bookshelf"?

And what aesthetic wants do you have? Any particular color? Shape, size constraints, etc?
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrallite View Post

You missed the other part--large companies also have a ton of middle management and this ends up suppressing ideas compared a small company. Ideas that might seem great but get shot down because "it's not the way we do things" whereas a small company can take chances with emerging technology or new theories.

You've still missed the point. The question was not about company size (nor how there are no small driver manufactuers, nor how large companies benefit from economies of scale in design, purchasing, and amoritization of costs, nor how they benefit from much larger engineering teams, better R&D facilities, and the ability to do much larger focus testing); but rather about expensive vs less expensive bookshelves.
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