HELP! Analysis Paralysis! (Helix/Apollo/HTM/Cobalt) - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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HELP! Analysis Paralysis! (Helix/Apollo/HTM/Cobalt)

I’m in a state of flux. The 893’s may not come back* and those speakers were what I was planning on using. I need to try and figure out what the best alternative speaker to use is. I really shouldn't go wider than ~10.5”, which rules out pretty much all the HTM, HT and other 99’s from the list. Depth and height can be a max of say 15” (Depth) and 32-36” (Height). That pretty much leaves bookshelves as my only option.

My old reference speakers were Polk LSi’s, which had a 88db efficiency and were 4 ohm. I’ve got a B&K 200.5 amp for my speakers, so 4 ohm low efficiency isn’t a “dealbreaker”, however I was wanting something with a higher efficiency, and possible 8 ohms. But I can live without it, if the speaker is worth it.

I’m planning on using these in conjunction with 2 large single fold tapped horns (2’x2’x8x) using 21” subs, so whatever speaker I choose needs to be able to keep up with them.

Right now I’m stuck looking at the Cobalt, Helix and Apollo, and maybe the HTM-8. I’m kinda stuck in an analysis paralysis. I’m hoping to hear more from folks that own or have heard one or more pairs of these speakers about pro’s/cons.

**Note** If the HTM-8 are REALLY head and shoulders above all three of those, I might be able to make them work, but I’d prefer to stick with the other three options.

I’ve put together my initial thoughts of each speaker based mostly on their specs. There isn’t much difference between them, so the list is fairly short. I did add the HTM-8 to the list as well. The HT-8 would likely be added for surrounds to save some cost.

Cobalt
Pro’s
  • scanspeak tweeter – company known for good products, so should be really good
  • 94db efficiency
  • 8 ohm
  • 8” drivers v 7” – depending on Xmax differences, may be moot point
  • has angled ported surround so I could have a set of 3 MTM’s and then 2 MT’s for surrounds
  • cheapest option
Con’s
  • not as much info out there about it
  • rear ported (but I’d make it a tower and adjust to be front ported)
  • doesn’t dig as deep (60hz)….. I have subs and plan to cross at 80hz, so not as big a deal, but I cant run these for music without subs. May be easier to integrate with subs given higher cutoff frequency
Helix
Pro’s
  • 91db efficiency
  • digs deep (40hz)
  • has TM option for surrounds
Con’s
  • 4 ohms
  • 7” drivers
  • rear ported
  • no angled flatpack for surrounds
  • lowest in power range (150 watts compared to 200 for Helix and 250 for Apollo)… may not matter due much in practice due to efficiency
Apollo
Pro’s
  • Anarchy Drivers
  • digs lowest of all three (36hz)
  • has TM for surrounds
Con’s
  • 7” drivers
  • rear ported
  • 88db efficiency (Xmax of drivers may make it a non-issue in practice)
  • no angled flatpack for surrounds
  • highest cost
HTM-8 | HT-8
Pro’s
  • waveguide v tweeter
  • 94db efficient
  • 8 ohm
  • least deep of all options
  • front ported
Con’s
  • larger than I really want
  • no angled surround kit, and surround will be much large compared to the others which all use a TM version
  • harder to use as a surround due to SEOS directivity. Unable to wall mount due to furniture and stud locations, otherwise that would be the preferred option.
  • doesn’t dig as deep (70hz)….. I have subs and plan to cross at 80hz, so not as big a deal, but I cant run these for music without subs. May be easier to integrate with subs given higher cutoff frequency
I appreciate your thoughts and comments on these particular speakers.......

*I totally understand the reasoning for this decision. I’m honestly shocked Erich stocks as many kits as he does, and keeps adding more, especially given the low turnover for most of these kits.

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post #2 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 11:09 AM
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Music/theater usage?

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post #3 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 11:19 AM
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I built Cobalts and absolutely love them. Super crisp and sound amazing.
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post #4 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 11:34 AM
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Using the published Sensitivity and Max power, the Cobalt has the highest potential output. Real world...who knows.
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post #5 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jevchance View Post
Music/theater usage?
I'd prefer something more dynamic than my old Polk LSi's, and now the SDA 2A's that are my stopgaps.

We watch a TON of TV (through my Xbox), and a lot of movies.

I do care about music and we frequently use Spotify, or Plex on my Xbox One (which is pretty much my main source there).

So I'd say likely 75% TV/Movies | 25% Music

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post #6 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 11:45 AM
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What do you have for boundaries, ceiling and floor more specifically? If you have low ceilings and hard floors the wave guides can help with early reflections since there is more vertical pattern control.

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post #7 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
I'd prefer something more dynamic than my old Polk LSi's, and now the SDA 2A's that are my stopgaps.

We watch a TON of TV (through my Xbox), and a lot of movies.

I do care about music and we frequently use Spotify, or Plex on my Xbox One (which is pretty much my main source there).

So I'd say likely 75% TV/Movies | 25% Music
I recently had a chance to demo HTM-12s next to Helix Domes, here's my $0.02 coming out of that.

The tweeter on the Helix Domes is like smooth, delicious butter. I am partial to the sound of domes, my Eosones have titanium domes and I just like the soundstage and smoothness of them. Listening to music, hands down, the Helixes destroyed the HTMs. In fact, they were some of the best sounding music speakers I've ever heard.

That being said, I also came to the realization that music speakers and theater speakers are different animals. The HTMs have an amazing wide stage, fantastic dynamics, and excellent imaging, all very important when talking home theater. Domes have a tendency to smooth over a lot of the imaging and dynamics you get with compression drivers, making the surround effects less impactful. I really noticed this when I swapped my rears from Eosone RSF600s (titanium dome) to Volt 10s. The imaging and dynamics went through the roof.

When people are talking about dedicated theater use, hands down go with a speaker with a compression tweeter and high sensitivity. If music is a priority, I prefer the domes.

People with compression drivers will tell you they sound good for music, and that's true, just as domes also sound good for theater use. But, I feel like compression drivers are next level for HT, and domes are next level for music, but either can do both just fine.

Not sure if that helps or muddies the waters. Both are great speakers, and in an ideal world, for my use, I'd have a theater with HTMs and a listening room with Helix.

Oh one more thing I've noticed: the compression driver really brings out the worst in low-quality, highly compressed internet streaming music. Not that domes make it any better, just a bit smoother. YMMV.

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post #8 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Five View Post
What do you have for boundaries, ceiling and floor more specifically? If you have low ceilings and hard floors the wave guides can help with early reflections since there is more vertical pattern control.

Here is my floor plan. Ignore the subs and entertainment center, otherwise it’s to scale.

Carpet in the hallway and living room, floating floor in the entry and kitchen.

8 foot tall ceilings except the entryway and hallway w the stairs is a vaulted ceiling to the loft upstairs.



Stupid limit on picture size..... Room is 16 wide x 18 deep x 8 tall. Open on three sides to other rooms/hallways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jevchance View Post
I recently had a chance to demo HTM-12s next to Helix Domes, here's my $0.02 coming out of that.

The tweeter on the Helix Domes is like smooth, delicious butter. I am partial to the sound of domes, my Eosones have titanium domes and I just like the soundstage and smoothness of them. Listening to music, hands down, the Helixes destroyed the HTMs. In fact, they were some of the best sounding music speakers I've ever heard.

That being said, I also came to the realization that music speakers and theater speakers are different animals. The HTMs have an amazing wide stage, fantastic dynamics, and excellent imaging, all very important when talking home theater. Domes have a tendency to smooth over a lot of the imaging and dynamics you get with compression drivers, making the surround effects less impactful. I really noticed this when I swapped my rears from Eosone RSF600s (titanium dome) to Volt 10s. The imaging and dynamics went through the roof.

When people are talking about dedicated theater use, hands down go with a speaker with a compression tweeter and high sensitivity. If music is a priority, I prefer the domes.

People with compression drivers will tell you they sound good for music, and that's true, just as domes also sound good for theater use. But, I feel like compression drivers are next level for HT, and domes are next level for music, but either can do both just fine.

Not sure if that helps or muddies the waters. Both are great speakers, and in an ideal world, for my use, I'd have a theater with HTMs and a listening room with Helix.

Oh one more thing I've noticed: the compression driver really brings out the worst in low-quality, highly compressed internet streaming music. Not that domes make it any better, just a bit smoother. YMMV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jevchance View Post

Not sure if that helps or muddies the waters.
Little bit of both lol.... Some decent warranted comparisons (although the HTM-12 is a BEAST compared to the HTM-8, but comparisons to the sound are applicable), while also proving the legitimacy of my paralysis...

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post #9 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 05:08 PM
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Not having heard them, I'll cast a vote for the Cobalts. You get the high sensitivity and dynamics of home theater compression driver horn speakers with 94 dB sensitivity, but the wide dispersion of a dome tweeter. I haven't seen *any* other design that gives 94 dB home theater level sensitivity coupled with a wide dispersion tweeter.

I'd love to do a side by side comparison with the HTM-8's and Cobalt 8's...many comparisons I have read seem to give the edge to dome tweeters for a wide soundstage and the ability of the speaker to disappear and not be localized. Look up and read the shootout done between the Salon 2 and JBL M2. This is a perfect "wide dispersion vs controlled directivity" comparison between two of the most highly regarded and best measuring speakers made.

If the Cobalt 8's were low enough as a center channel to fit for me, I'd be very tempted to build a set to compare.
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post #10 of 19 Old 10-17-2019, 05:36 PM
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Helix MT or MTM

[QUOTE=jevchance;58696952]I recently had a chance to demo HTM-12s next to Helix Domes, here's my $0.02 coming out of that.

The tweeter on the Helix Domes is like smooth, delicious butter. I am partial to the sound of domes, my Eosones have titanium domes and I just like the soundstage and smoothness of them. Listening to music, hands down, the Helixes destroyed the HTMs. In fact, they were some of the best sounding music speakers I've ever heard.


Were these the Helix MT or MTM domes that you heard?
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post #11 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 06:44 AM
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Were these the Helix MT or MTM domes that you heard?
They were MTs. And now that I look closer, I think these were HTM-10s. I'll double check. @Jk7.2 ?

Just checked his for sale thread, they are actually HTM-8s.


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post #12 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 07:05 AM
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HELP! Analysis Paralysis! (Helix/Apollo/HTM/Cobalt)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jevchance View Post
They were MTs. And now that I look closer, I think these were HTM-10s. I'll double check. @Jk7.2 ?



Just checked his for sale thread, they are actually HTM-8s.





You are correct. But, we also had my HT-8’s there as well. We compared them to the HTM-8’s, and to the helix’s. That was a fun day. Here’s a pic with the HT-8’s as well.
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post #13 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 07:10 AM
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You are correct. But, we also had my HT-8’s there as well. We compared them to the HTM-8’s, and to the helix’s. That was a fun day. Here’s a pic with the HT-8’s as well.
Still blown away by how much awesomeness you fit into a tight space.

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post #14 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 07:14 AM
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Still blown away by how much awesomeness you fit into a tight space.


Lol. Upstairs or downstairs?
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post #15 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 09:17 AM
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Lol. Upstairs or downstairs?
Downstairs, although the upstairs ain't shabby either.
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post #16 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone heard the Helix Ribbon by any chance? Thats another design that seems very interested..... the MTM and MT kits weren't out there for long, but they have the same spec's as the Helix Dome, but use a Fountech ribbon tweeter instead....

I heard that the ribbons are a good compromise between a dome tweeter and a waveguide like the SEOS stuff......

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post #17 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 11:12 AM
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I'm also puzzling on the compression driver vs. dome question for my next speakers. I'm using a pair of SEAS Idunns with a waveguide-mounted dome tweeter and a 6.5" woofer. (crossed over to 4x12" JBL CS1214 subs). I think the drivers are individually good but the speakers as a whole just aren't getting the job done in terms of output and headroom. I want better dynamics in the 100-500hz range. However, I love the tonality of the tweeters. Importantly, this is a nearfield setup (my head and speakers form a roughly 5ft equilateral triangle).

The new Vortex-12s seem like an obvious choice. Coaxial will be good for nearfield and the 12 inch woofer should address the dynamics. But I just can't help but wonder if I'm going to dislike the compression driver compared to my SEAS dome.

Which then leads me to wondering about the trade-off between the 12 inch woofer and dual 7s or 8s with the Helix MTM and Cobalt MTM respectively. The MTMs have slightly less total cone area than a single 12, but it's not a huge difference. Since I have subs, I don't need the low frequency abilities of the Helix woofers, so would that make the Cobalts a better match? I certainly like the price.

Efficiency is not a huge concern since my amp already has enough headroom for the low efficiency Idunns so any of these designs are an improvement in that department. I want more output than the Idunns are capable of, but not THAT much more because it's a small room. It's really better dynamics for percussion that I'm after. I want the chest thump from kick drums and the snap of snares and toms.

My room is treated with corner bass traps that are also roughly at the first reflection points of the speakers. I have some more panels, but they aren't hung at optimal spots because it felt like it deadened the room too much. I think early reflections from my large desk are an issue. Controlled directivity would probably be helpful, but then again I'm fairly happy with the overall sound of the SEAS domes in my room currently.

My head is spinning....
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post #18 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 02:54 PM
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@Jk7.2 what was the verdict between the helix, htm and ht-8? Did you guys have cobalts to compare too or am I mixing posts?

What are those veneered towers book ending the tv? Are those htm-8s with a (sorry ported) sub as the stand? Those look great!

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post #19 of 19 Old 10-18-2019, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriksells916 View Post
@Jk7.2 what was the verdict between the helix, htm and ht-8? Did you guys have cobalts to compare too or am I mixing posts?



What are those veneered towers book ending the tv? Are those htm-8s with a (sorry ported) sub as the stand? Those look great!


We didn’t have cobolts in hand. But the guys said the htm-8’s were very smooth and detailed, same for the ht-8’s, except they give up a little detail for music, but either would be a great choice for movies. The helix were played with and without subs. They have fabulous extension for their size for sure. And the tweeter was described as ‘splashy’ and ‘airy’ which I understood after listening for a while. I am no good describing what my ears are hearing. But I think that sums up what the guys were saying.

We also had subs I built and listened to. The buyout 15’s from diysg. Those were very well liked. They were ported at 22 ish hz and have great extension you would expect from a 15” ported.

The towers you see are cabs I built and veneered. I have a thread that covers the process. I used htm-8’s for the top section, and a 4cf separate space for ported mbm 12’s. Also diysg. Those are still in my living room. We listen to them almost every day, although they are for sale in the classifieds as well. If someone was interested.
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