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post #1 of 19 Old 05-26-2016, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Looking for opinions

Hey all,
I know that there are too many posts like this when it comes to buying speakers, and I know that the answer is 'what sounds best to me', but maybe there's something that I have overlooked. Maybe someone has had a bad experience, or has been blown away, etc. So please be gentle. I hope to buy one of these by next weekend. I have an 80W NAD int amp and a rather small room.

The speakers I've listened to in the last 3 days are :

Golden Ear Triton Two+ Tower
Paradigm 85F
KEF r700
B&Wcm10
revel F206
Focal Aria936

It's not easy to remember what one speaker sounded like when listening to a different one days later.
One dealer won't do an A-B comparison because he believes it's deceiving?
From what I"ve read here, the Golden Ears are either loved or hated.

So any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

Dan
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 09:35 AM
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Surprised that all are rather large for a "rather small room."

Happy hunting; hard to see you you could go wrong with any of those to be honest.
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
It's not easy to remember what one speaker sounded like when listening to a different one days later.
One dealer won't do an A-B comparison because he believes it's deceiving?
From what I"ve read here, the Golden Ears are either loved or hated.

So any advice is appreciated.
Two things spring to mind; find another dealer, and allow your ears to decide.

No one can really do more than tell you what a set of speakers sounded like to them I'm afraid. With the exception of the GE's -which as you mentioned are somewhat polarizing - those are all good brands, so it's not like you would make a bad choice. It's down to what works best for you really.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
The speakers I've listened to in the last 3 days are :

Golden Ear Triton Two+ Tower
Paradigm 85F
KEF r700
B&Wcm10
revel F206
Focal Aria936
% HT/TV vs music?
genres of music and movies?
subwoofer or none?
preferred listening levels---moderate or loud or super loud?

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 12:36 PM
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I can only speak on behalf of Focal 936. I think they are the closest thing to electrostats with out any of the drawbacks. You wont regret them.

Focal Aria 936, 807V, SVS PB2000, OPPO 103D, MRX 500, Simaudio Moon Neo 280D, Yamaha AS-2100, Rega Planar 3, Moon 110lp.
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post #6 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 12:38 PM
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Perhaps another way to approach your search would be to identify the characteristics you are seeking from your setup. Then it will be easier to narrow down to the candidates that are more likely to meet your needs. Also easier for others to point you in the right direction (for you).


For instance, are you looking for: loud & dynamic; heavy bass; bright treble; warm, but tight lows; soft, but detailed highs; great dialogue for movies; forgiving nature for old recordings; pretty cabinets; size/mounting considerations, etc.


I agree that you should find a new dealer if you can't A/B the speakers - how else do you learn what you like? I bet this guy can also sell you some $1,000 speaker wires soaked in snake oil that will sound incredible once you get them home While there is definitely merit in listening to the same setup for a period of time, you have already seen that it becomes very difficult to remember what you like about one speaker or another.


If you can't find a place to A/B speakers, then find an online dealer or ID company with a convenient return policy and audition in your own home.




Cheers!
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
Hey all,
I know that there are too many posts like this when it comes to buying speakers, and I know that the answer is 'what sounds best to me', but maybe there's something that I have overlooked. Maybe someone has had a bad experience, or has been blown away, etc. So please be gentle. I hope to buy one of these by next weekend. I have an 80W NAD int amp and a rather small room.

The speakers I've listened to in the last 3 days are :

Golden Ear Triton Two+ Tower
Paradigm 85F
KEF r700
B&Wcm10
revel F206
Focal Aria936

It's not easy to remember what one speaker sounded like when listening to a different one days later.
One dealer won't do an A-B comparison because he believes it's deceiving?
From what I"ve read here, the Golden Ears are either loved or hated.

So any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

Dan
It's clear to me that you are not done with the listening phase of the process. Putting some artificial time limit on your purchase is a recipe for failure, so I urge you to not give in the the temptation to just get it done.

The most important thing is to be consistent when you listen, so you are comparing apples to apples. Here's some approaches that I think may benefit you in your decision process.

Bring the same music along (in cd quality or better, no mp3). Be sure it's music you know, with female vocals (reveals exaggerated or rough treble), male vocals (especially Johnny Cash, reveals mid-bass thickness), large orchestral (reveals if the speaker can resolve all the individual instruments or just a wall of sound), Jazz or blues club (reveals imaging width, depth, and height). Piano is an excellent revealer of natural sound, so do bring some of that along as well.

If you own a dB meter, bring it along to be sure you are always listening at the exact same volume (if not, try to remain consistent with the apparent volume (not what shows on the receiver/amp). Make yourself up a chart and grade each speaker characteristic (as delineated above and/or add your own) while you listen ... as you have seen, trying to remember from speaker to speaker is nearly impossible.

Then go back over the grades and decide which characteristics are most important to you and give more weight to those characteristics. That should help you narrow down the search to one or two.

Go back and listen again (it's an iterative process). Are you thrilled with what you are hearing? If not, your search is not over yet. If so, negotiate to bring the speakers home and listen there. Be sure you can return them without penalty as each room is different and will bring out subtle or not so subtle differences in the sound you hear.

Be organized and thorough. Take your time and wait until you find that right speaker for you. The more you listen, the better your decision will be, and the less likely you'll be back here in six months or a year asking what you should "upgrade" to.

Let your ears be the final arbiter.

Last edited by RayGuy; 05-27-2016 at 03:58 PM.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 01:19 PM
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Along the lines of what RayGuy suggested, I always listen to the same passages (30 seconds or so). For instance I have ones for:
  • Walking Bassline
  • Imaging & Soundstage (i.e. acoustic jazz)
  • Specific details that are difficult to discern on lower fidelity systems
  • Vocals that are subject to sibilance
By noting the specifics and keeping mental or written notes it is easier to make comparisons, even when you cannot A/B.


Most likely you will ultimately sacrifice some trait. However, you want to meet as many of your priorities as possible.
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 02:19 PM
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Others have kind of hit it, I will add a bit more.

There is a standard set of question that we will ask anyone looking for a system, and partly because these are the question you need to ask yourself.

1.) What is your budget?

2.) What equipment do you have?

3.) What equipment do you need? In your case, that seems to be just speakers.

4.) What are the DIMENSIONS of the room?

4a.) Is the Room an open floor plan or a closed room? If an open floor plan then we need the overall room dimensions and the dimension of the listening area.

5.) Are there any room considerations that might effect your choices? As an example, fireplace always mess up the placement of audio equipment. Are the large windows or Patio doors? Anything that could have an effect on the choice or the use of the equipment.

6.) What is the use of the system? That is, Music only, Movies only, or some blend of the two, and if a blend what blend (eg: 40% music / 60% movies)?

7.) Whether movies or music, how do you typically listen? That is LOUD!, modest, low volume, other? Give us a general sense of how the system will be used.

7a.) What type of movie and music do you generally watch/listen too? The system we would recommend for someone into classical or jazz is very different than the system we would recommend to someone into Heavy Metal or Hip-Hop/Rap.

8.) A general assessment of the room acoustics? If this is a bare empty closed room -bare floor, not curtains, bare ceiling, etc... - then the the room is going to be very reflective, and you either need to do something about the reflections, or to moderate your equipment choices. However, an old fashioned carpet/rug, softly furnished, curtained, cluttered room is going to be acoustically better.

Seems like a lot of questions, but if not to us, then at least to yourself, these questions need to be asked and answered.

Perhaps one last question - What are you looking for in terms of sound characteristics?

For example, the Focal 800 or 900 series have crystal clear near perfect bass, it is just not that deep, and not overly exaggerated. It is also a slightly forward speaker. Forward meaning it reaches out to you. A speaker that is laid-back, more so, draws you in.

Some forward speakers can be overly bright, though I did not find that when I auditioned the Focal 800 series. I was truly impressed with the sound I heard, and I would expect the new 900 Series to be better. HOWEVER, while the Focal has crystal clear bass, the bass does not go quite as deep as other speakers in the same class. When I auditioned the Focal 836, I did not find this to be a problem.

A Wharfedale or a Bowers-Wilkins tend to be a bit warmer more laid back speaker. This can typically lead to very low fatigue speakers. Great for long listening sessions. While I find my Wharfedale great for music, I find the mid-range a bit recessed for movies. Though that could be my aging hearing.

Next, I think you need to consider the Bass Depth. Treble usually takes care of itself, there is no trouble with tweeters reaching 20khz or considerably higher. But bass between speakers can be more variable.

For example, the Focal 936 with 3x6.5" bass driver has rated bass down to 39hz at -3db and 32hz at -6db.

The Bowers-Wilkins CM9 with 2x6.5" bass drivers is rated at 46hz at -3db and 30hz at -6db.

The Polk Audio RTi-9 has 3x7" and bass rated down to 30hz at -3db, which means a best guess of a -6db near 25hz.

The Revel Proforma 3 F206 have 2x6.5" and rated bass down to 42hz at -3db, 36hz at -6db. Though some that have done independent tests find those numbers optimistic.

Generally, higher quality better sounding speakers are willing to sacrifice a bit of overbearing bass in exchange of much higher clarity.

Now we come to the anomaly, the Golden Ear speakers. Because they have active low-bass drivers, they can drive bass down much deeper than most speaker makers, and all the reviews rave about the overall sound quality consistently rating them WELL ABOVE their price class.

But.... I don't really think they look all that great, but then I don't like black speaker in general.

Although it depends on many factors, if I were getting Golden Ear, I would most certainly consider the TRITON 1 ($2500 each).

The Trition 2 ($1750 each) have frequency response rated at - 16 Hz - 35 kHz. That's pretty impressive, and again, nothing but RAVE reviews for the Triton speaker. Some rating them up there with speakers costing $20,000/pr.

Also, the Triton tend to be very smooth and flat down to the very bottom. The Active Low-Bass drivers do not created exaggerated bass.

The speakers do present a very narrow face to the room. But equally I found the Focal 836 very unassuming and considered them very unobtrusive in a typical living room.

Though I would like them in different woof finished. I prefer more of a medium with a bit of red - Cherry, Dark Maple, Rosewood. Still, the Focal 900 series and particularly the Focal 936 are VERY high on my list of desirable speaker.

So, though I'm rambling, those are the things you must consider. I don't think most people considering the B&W CM10 would also consider the Paradigm. Those are speakers with very different personalities.

All the speaker in the list sound good, that's not up for debate, but which has the characteristics and personality that will appeal to you, that is the underlying question.

For what it is worth.

Steve/bluewizard
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Last edited by bluewizard; 05-27-2016 at 03:13 PM.
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 02:39 PM
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Hi,

I suspect that the process of selecting speakers is overwhelming you a little bit, and you may also find the wealth of advice you are getting a little overwhelming too. But you can see some patterns in the advice. People are encouraging you to identify the characteristics that you like. They are encouraging you to take your time. This is a fairly serious expenditure, and unless you want to repeat it soon, you need to let it take the time it takes.

I completely agree that it is an iterative process. Don't try to hold yourself to a single listening session with a speaker unless you are ready to rule it out. In my opinion, there are two ways to approach this kind of selection. First, you can look for the speaker, or two, or three, that you love immediately. Apparently, that hasn't happened. Second, you can try to identify the speakers that you like less than the others, either because they have some specific flaw to your ear, or just because, on some intuitive level.

Once you get your choices down to two, or at the most three speakers, the process of auditioning will become more manageable and less overwhelming. Spend some time with each of your finalists, and then make your best selection. But make sure that the ones you select are returnable, if a lengthy in-home audition isn't possible, because they may sound different in your room. And then you will want to try your second place selection. Take your time. You'll get there.

Regards,
Mike
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GUIDE TO SUBWOOFER CALIBRATION AND BASS PREFERENCES

* The Guide linked above is a comprehensive guide to Audio & HT systems, including:
Speaker placements & Room treatments; HT calibration & Room EQ; Room gain; Bass
Preferences; Subwoofer Buyer's Guide: Sealed/ported; ID subs; Subwoofer placement.
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post #11 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 03:09 PM
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one of the things I did when auditioning was 1st listen to the most expensive speakers in the shop. This gave me an idea of what the way over the top price range was. then I went trying to find a system in my price range that came close. in my case I think what I bought was actually better than the 100 grand system I was comparing it too.

also think about your space, if you can only place the speakers 6 inches away from a wall, consider that as a factor. no sense in buying a speaker that needs to be placed 2 feet out in the room if you cant do that.
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Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
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post #12 of 19 Old 05-27-2016, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mthomas47 View Post
Hi,

I suspect that the process of selecting speakers is overwhelming you a little bit, and you may also find the wealth of advice you are getting a little overwhelming too.

Mike
I agree with Mike. I'd say, just get it down to 3 speakers - for any reason, looks, dealer, etc.

Then see if you can listen to them in your home with the possibility of returning the pair. Chances are you'll like it enough to keep 'em based on your choices.
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post #13 of 19 Old 05-28-2016, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post
Two things spring to mind; find another dealer, and allow your ears to decide.

No one can really do more than tell you what a set of speakers sounded like to them I'm afraid. With the exception of the GE's -which as you mentioned are somewhat polarizing - those are all good brands, so it's not like you would make a bad choice. It's down to what works best for you really.
Thanks Jim!
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post #14 of 19 Old 05-28-2016, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Francky View Post
I can only speak on behalf of Focal 936. I think they are the closest thing to electrostats with out any of the drawbacks. You wont regret them.
That's reassuring, thanks!
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post #15 of 19 Old 05-28-2016, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon O View Post
Perhaps another way to approach your search would be to identify the characteristics you are seeking from your setup. Then it will be easier to narrow down to the candidates that are more likely to meet your needs. Also easier for others to point you in the right direction (for you).


For instance, are you looking for: loud & dynamic; heavy bass; bright treble; warm, but tight lows; soft, but detailed highs; great dialogue for movies; forgiving nature for old recordings; pretty cabinets; size/mounting considerations, etc.


I agree that you should find a new dealer if you can't A/B the speakers - how else do you learn what you like? I bet this guy can also sell you some $1,000 speaker wires soaked in snake oil that will sound incredible once you get them home While there is definitely merit in listening to the same setup for a period of time, you have already seen that it becomes very difficult to remember what you like about one speaker or another.


If you can't find a place to A/B speakers, then find an online dealer or ID company with a convenient return policy and audition in your own home.




Cheers!
Hi Leon,
The fellow who didn't want or have the a-b option was the guy who treated me the best, actually. We talked for 20 minutes before we listened to anything. He asked about room size, power, preferences, etc,
He also had the best selection of speakers. This is where I heard the revel and the focal, and I was ready to decide between the two, but decided to listen to a few more.
I'm not sure if I can find another dealer that carries both of these brands that will do an A-B. I noticed that you're in western Ma. I'm in eastern Ma. Do you know anyone in your area that carries both?

Thanks!

Dan
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post #16 of 19 Old 05-28-2016, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewizard View Post
Others have kind of hit it, I will add a bit more.

There is a standard set of question that we will ask anyone looking for a system, and partly because these are the question you need to ask yourself.

1.) What is your budget?

2.) What equipment do you have?

3.) What equipment do you need? In your case, that seems to be just speakers.

4.) What are the DIMENSIONS of the room?

4a.) Is the Room an open floor plan or a closed room? If an open floor plan then we need the overall room dimensions and the dimension of the listening area.

5.) Are there any room considerations that might effect your choices? As an example, fireplace always mess up the placement of audio equipment. Are the large windows or Patio doors? Anything that could have an effect on the choice or the use of the equipment.

6.) What is the use of the system? That is, Music only, Movies only, or some blend of the two, and if a blend what blend (eg: 40% music / 60% movies)?

7.) Whether movies or music, how do you typically listen? That is LOUD!, modest, low volume, other? Give us a general sense of how the system will be used.

7a.) What type of movie and music do you generally watch/listen too? The system we would recommend for someone into classical or jazz is very different than the system we would recommend to someone into Heavy Metal or Hip-Hop/Rap.

8.) A general assessment of the room acoustics? If this is a bare empty closed room -bare floor, not curtains, bare ceiling, etc... - then the the room is going to be very reflective, and you either need to do something about the reflections, or to moderate your equipment choices. However, an old fashioned carpet/rug, softly furnished, curtained, cluttered room is going to be acoustically better.

Seems like a lot of questions, but if not to us, then at least to yourself, these questions need to be asked and answered.

Perhaps one last question - What are you looking for in terms of sound characteristics?

For example, the Focal 800 or 900 series have crystal clear near perfect bass, it is just not that deep, and not overly exaggerated. It is also a slightly forward speaker. Forward meaning it reaches out to you. A speaker that is laid-back, more so, draws you in.

Some forward speakers can be overly bright, though I did not find that when I auditioned the Focal 800 series. I was truly impressed with the sound I heard, and I would expect the new 900 Series to be better. HOWEVER, while the Focal has crystal clear bass, the bass does not go quite as deep as other speakers in the same class. When I auditioned the Focal 836, I did not find this to be a problem.

A Wharfedale or a Bowers-Wilkins tend to be a bit warmer more laid back speaker. This can typically lead to very low fatigue speakers. Great for long listening sessions. While I find my Wharfedale great for music, I find the mid-range a bit recessed for movies. Though that could be my aging hearing.

Next, I think you need to consider the Bass Depth. Treble usually takes care of itself, there is no trouble with tweeters reaching 20khz or considerably higher. But bass between speakers can be more variable.

For example, the Focal 936 with 3x6.5" bass driver has rated bass down to 39hz at -3db and 32hz at -6db.

The Bowers-Wilkins CM9 with 2x6.5" bass drivers is rated at 46hz at -3db and 30hz at -6db.

The Polk Audio RTi-9 has 3x7" and bass rated down to 30hz at -3db, which means a best guess of a -6db near 25hz.

The Revel Proforma 3 F206 have 2x6.5" and rated bass down to 42hz at -3db, 36hz at -6db. Though some that have done independent tests find those numbers optimistic.

Generally, higher quality better sounding speakers are willing to sacrifice a bit of overbearing bass in exchange of much higher clarity.

Now we come to the anomaly, the Golden Ear speakers. Because they have active low-bass drivers, they can drive bass down much deeper than most speaker makers, and all the reviews rave about the overall sound quality consistently rating them WELL ABOVE their price class.

But.... I don't really think they look all that great, but then I don't like black speaker in general.

Although it depends on many factors, if I were getting Golden Ear, I would most certainly consider the TRITON 1 ($2500 each).

The Trition 2 ($1750 each) have frequency response rated at - 16 Hz - 35 kHz. That's pretty impressive, and again, nothing but RAVE reviews for the Triton speaker. Some rating them up there with speakers costing $20,000/pr.

Also, the Triton tend to be very smooth and flat down to the very bottom. The Active Low-Bass drivers do not created exaggerated bass.

The speakers do present a very narrow face to the room. But equally I found the Focal 836 very unassuming and considered them very unobtrusive in a typical living room.

Though I would like them in different woof finished. I prefer more of a medium with a bit of red - Cherry, Dark Maple, Rosewood. Still, the Focal 900 series and particularly the Focal 936 are VERY high on my list of desirable speaker.

So, though I'm rambling, those are the things you must consider. I don't think most people considering the B&W CM10 would also consider the Paradigm. Those are speakers with very different personalities.

All the speaker in the list sound good, that's not up for debate, but which has the characteristics and personality that will appeal to you, that is the underlying question.

For what it is worth.

Steve/bluewizard
Wow Steve, great response.
So many things to go over. I'm printing this one out.
I never really got into stats, but I think it would be beneficial.

Thanks again,
Dan
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post #17 of 19 Old 05-28-2016, 01:01 PM
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In my area two shops that have higher end offerings are

SpearitSound.com in North Hampton, and
TheAudioStore.com just south of Hartford.

Have never been, but there is also :
TheStereoShop.com in Hartford

Also, you ca check out SafeandSoundhq.com in Chicopee to see if they have anything of interest. Mostly Polk and Klisch, but they also had the Monitor Audio Platinum series. Friendly, but not a great listening environment.

Going a different approach SourceSpeaker.com (Source Technology) offers handmade and customizable speakers. The office is inbetween Springfield and Hartford.

Unfortunately, I can't get out much any more so I'm not as current as I would like to be.

Have Fun!
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post #18 of 19 Old 06-05-2016, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow Steve, great response.
So many things to go over. I'm printing this one out.
I never really got into stats, but I think it would be beneficial.

Thanks again,
Dan
Hi Steve,
I really think that some of the terminology here needs it's own appendix.

" It is also a slightly forward speaker. Forward meaning it reaches out to you. A speaker that is laid-back, more so, draws you in."

I know that it's hard to describe sound, but some of these are rather unique.

I pictured myself being pulled towards a black hole when I read this!
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post #19 of 19 Old 06-09-2016, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I ordered the Focal Aria 936 last night.
Thanks for all the input!

Dan
yanks1 and gajCA like this.
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