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post #1 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Help in deciding on bookshelves

I have recently started redesigning my home theater/Hi Fi setup. Like allot of people I started off getting into basic home theater then becoming more and more interested in high quality audio for music thus becoming the audiophile. lol, although I am far from being an audiophile yet. Until recently I was running a 3.1 system with some small Kef satellites for front left and right and center, along with a 200 watt Kef sub. I moved into a newly built home were I had rear surround speaker wires installed in the ceiling and have recently installed in ceiling speakers for the left and right surrounds. The speakers I chose were Bowers and Wilkins CCM665 in ceiling speakers and they sound great. As a matter of fact they are now out-performing my front Kef satellites which have very small drivers. And a home theater isn't supposed to be this way. Aside from that, because I have been getting more into music these days I find the little Kef's are lacking allot in two channel stereo performance because of the small driver size they have, a .75 inch tweeter and two 2 inch mids. They sound great for home theater (believe me they would blow any BOSE lifestyle system away) however even with the sub they are not quite up to par in two channel. As a matter of fact I find these days I am listening to music in multichannel stereo just to get the Bowers and Wilkins involved because they sound that good. But traditionally this is not normally how I would listen to music.

So what I am now looking to do is replace the 3 satellites in the front with something that will sound much letter with music especially when playing through only the left and right. I have decided that some good quality bookshelves will suit my needs and fit my budget. I'm going to keep the Kef sub for the time being. I am considering the following 4 speakers along with a matching center:

Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2
Monitor Audio Silver One
Kef R100
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55

I am wondering if anyone has experience with any of these and their opinions of each. I am using a Marantz SR5010 AVR and my main sources of music are from a Cambridge Audio Topaz CD10 player, streaming with Spotify app through the Marantz and accessing FLAC music files off a NAS drive through the Marantz.

Looking forward to your response.
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post #2 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 03:23 PM
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What is your budget for your LCR?

Q Acoustics is well regarded and MUCH cheaper than the B&W while sounding similar.
The Kef R100 is pushing in price where I would rather have the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2 LCR (which is what I purchased last week).
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post #3 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 03:35 PM
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Pretty different price range.


These types of threads are pretty pointless IMO. There's just no way for anyone other than you to determine what YOU like best. Doesn't matter what anyone else likes. Plus different rooms all have an affect on the sound.


You need to demo whatever you can, preferably in your own home, and pick the one you like best.


It's a lot like asking the internet world, what's a good beer? Then buying a year's supply without having sampled it, then having to drink it no matter how much you may not like it.

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post #4 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeTRON250LM View Post
What is your budget for your LCR?

Q Acoustics is well regarded and MUCH cheaper than the B&W while sounding similar.
The Kef R100 is pushing in price where I would rather have the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2 LCR (which is what I purchased last week).
My budget is about $2000, trying not to go over that. I'm not too familiar with Q Acoustics.
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post #5 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 03:40 PM
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Another vote for the QA speakers.

Or, I'd get the B&W for your L/R speakers but get a deliberately mismatched center speaker that has really crisp clear voice clarity for HT use only, and revert to 2.0 or 2.1 when listening to music.

PS. Pretty much ANYTHING would "blow away" a Bose Lifestyle system, so that is very faint praise actually.

~ 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 #6 of 45 Old 02-21-2017, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2
Monitor Audio Silver One
Kef R100
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55
From your list, the Monitor Audio or the Kef

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post #7 of 45 Old 02-22-2017, 08:12 AM
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From your list, the Monitor Audio or the Kef
any insight on the monitors? Thinking on them too
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post #8 of 45 Old 02-22-2017, 10:56 AM
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any insight on the monitors? Thinking on them too
I like the Silver 1 series sound - good imaging and definition.

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post #9 of 45 Old 02-22-2017, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
I have recently started redesigning my home theater/Hi Fi setup. Like allot of people I started off getting into basic home theater then becoming more and more interested in high quality audio for music thus becoming the audiophile. lol, although I am far from being an audiophile yet. Until recently I was running a 3.1 system with some small Kef satellites for front left and right and center, along with a 200 watt Kef sub. I moved into a newly built home were I had rear surround speaker wires installed in the ceiling and have recently installed in ceiling speakers for the left and right surrounds. The speakers I chose were Bowers and Wilkins CCM665 in ceiling speakers and they sound great. As a matter of fact they are now out-performing my front Kef satellites which have very small drivers. And a home theater isn't supposed to be this way. Aside from that, because I have been getting more into music these days I find the little Kef's are lacking allot in two channel stereo performance because of the small driver size they have, a .75 inch tweeter and two 2 inch mids. They sound great for home theater (believe me they would blow any BOSE lifestyle system away) however even with the sub they are not quite up to par in two channel. As a matter of fact I find these days I am listening to music in multichannel stereo just to get the Bowers and Wilkins involved because they sound that good. But traditionally this is not normally how I would listen to music.

So what I am now looking to do is replace the 3 satellites in the front with something that will sound much letter with music especially when playing through only the left and right. I have decided that some good quality bookshelves will suit my needs and fit my budget. I'm going to keep the Kef sub for the time being. I am considering the following 4 speakers along with a matching center:

Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2
Monitor Audio Silver One
Kef R100
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55

I am wondering if anyone has experience with any of these and their opinions of each. I am using a Marantz SR5010 AVR and my main sources of music are from a Cambridge Audio Topaz CD10 player, streaming with Spotify app through the Marantz and accessing FLAC music files off a NAS drive through the Marantz.

Looking forward to your response.
I've been a Monitor and a KEF dealer for several years and can probably help with some opinions between those two lines and models. DefTech is a good speaker, but definitely a different presentation of sound than the other 3 lines you mentioned. I'm not a fan of the lower end B&W product and think they have made their name on the 800 series and Nautilus stuff for a long time, but that's just my opinion. I know a lot of people love them. Personally, I just find some of their entry models to be thin sounding.

- KEF: Depending on room size and listening distance (did not see that listed in your post) I think that the R100 is possibly a little small to be used as a main L/R. It possibly could be, but I'm not going to get on a soap box for it without knowing a few more details on the room. It's an excellent sounding speaker with a lot of R&D behind it, though.

- Monitor Silver 1: I like this speaker a lot. Not as pretty as the KEF R series in my opinion, but I think the Silver 1 could be better suited for what you're trying to do than the smaller R100. If we were talking about the 3-way KEF R300 I would easily be of a different opinion and would give that a big thumbs up for main L/R duties in a theater setting vs the Monitor Silver 1. I just think that the larger cabinet and woofer would give a fuller, bigger sound as a main L/R.
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post #10 of 45 Old 02-22-2017, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
I have recently started redesigning my home theater/Hi Fi setup. Like allot of people I started off getting into basic home theater then becoming more and more interested in high quality audio for music thus becoming the audiophile. lol, although I am far from being an audiophile yet. Until recently I was running a 3.1 system with some small Kef satellites for front left and right and center, along with a 200 watt Kef sub. I moved into a newly built home were I had rear surround speaker wires installed in the ceiling and have recently installed in ceiling speakers for the left and right surrounds. The speakers I chose were Bowers and Wilkins CCM665 in ceiling speakers and they sound great. As a matter of fact they are now out-performing my front Kef satellites which have very small drivers. And a home theater isn't supposed to be this way. Aside from that, because I have been getting more into music these days I find the little Kef's are lacking allot in two channel stereo performance because of the small driver size they have, a .75 inch tweeter and two 2 inch mids. They sound great for home theater (believe me they would blow any BOSE lifestyle system away) however even with the sub they are not quite up to par in two channel. As a matter of fact I find these days I am listening to music in multichannel stereo just to get the Bowers and Wilkins involved because they sound that good. But traditionally this is not normally how I would listen to music.

So what I am now looking to do is replace the 3 satellites in the front with something that will sound much letter with music especially when playing through only the left and right. I have decided that some good quality bookshelves will suit my needs and fit my budget. I'm going to keep the Kef sub for the time being. I am considering the following 4 speakers along with a matching center:

Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2
Monitor Audio Silver One
Kef R100
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55

I am wondering if anyone has experience with any of these and their opinions of each. I am using a Marantz SR5010 AVR and my main sources of music are from a Cambridge Audio Topaz CD10 player, streaming with Spotify app through the Marantz and accessing FLAC music files off a NAS drive through the Marantz.

Looking forward to your response.
Are you in the States?

How big is your room and if it is large, how far away are you from the front speakers?

One thing I would definitely factor in is what it will cost you to add a matching center.

With B&W it would be at least $450 which isn't bad.

With the Monitor Audios it would be $750, KEF $1000 and DefTec $360 for a Studio Monitor 65 laid on its side.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #11 of 45 Old 02-22-2017, 05:45 PM
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These NHT Classic 3 speakers have received great reviews. They are now discontinued and have been replaced by the NHT C4s.
Since they are discontinued, these are available at a super discount new on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/NHT-Classic-B...s=nht+speakers
Look for reviews from Stereophile and Audioholics.


For a center that matches the Classic 3s, consider this NHT
http://www.nhthifi.com/products/1655...enter-speakers
NHT also has several center speakers (and others) at "special" b-stock reduced prices.


I listen to a lot of music and I believe that the sealed box (acoustic suspension) speakers provide great sound.

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post #12 of 45 Old 02-24-2017, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
Are you in the States?

How big is your room and if it is large, how far away are you from the front speakers?

One thing I would definitely factor in is what it will cost you to add a matching center.

With B&W it would be at least $450 which isn't bad.

With the Monitor Audios it would be $750, KEF $1000 and DefTec $360 for a Studio Monitor 65 laid on its side.
I live in Southern Ontario, Canada. My family room is about 18X13 with 8 foot ceilings. I'm sitting about 8 feet away from the spears in the center. I am also looking at the cost of the center speaker and KEF looks like the most expensive option.
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post #13 of 45 Old 02-24-2017, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestigeAudio View Post
I've been a Monitor and a KEF dealer for several years and can probably help with some opinions between those two lines and models. DefTech is a good speaker, but definitely a different presentation of sound than the other 3 lines you mentioned. I'm not a fan of the lower end B&W product and think they have made their name on the 800 series and Nautilus stuff for a long time, but that's just my opinion. I know a lot of people love them. Personally, I just find some of their entry models to be thin sounding.

- KEF: Depending on room size and listening distance (did not see that listed in your post) I think that the R100 is possibly a little small to be used as a main L/R. It possibly could be, but I'm not going to get on a soap box for it without knowing a few more details on the room. It's an excellent sounding speaker with a lot of R&D behind it, though.

- Monitor Silver 1: I like this speaker a lot. Not as pretty as the KEF R series in my opinion, but I think the Silver 1 could be better suited for what you're trying to do than the smaller R100. If we were talking about the 3-way KEF R300 I would easily be of a different opinion and would give that a big thumbs up for main L/R duties in a theater setting vs the Monitor Silver 1. I just think that the larger cabinet and woofer would give a fuller, bigger sound as a main L/R.
I appreciate your insight. I have heard similar things about Bowers and Wilkins before. It seems to be one of those brands where people either really love them or really dislike them. No in-between. I've heard that they tend to be bright and can even make the music sound too detailed. I do like the Monitor Audio's and they seem to get a really good review. I currently own little KEF satillites and they sound great for their size, but they are satellites. I'm basically trying to consider a few brands before dropping $2000 to make sure I get something I am really going to enjoy.
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post #14 of 45 Old 02-24-2017, 12:52 PM
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I'd get Sierra-1 NRT's or Sierra-2's for LCR.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...SRM1/srm1.html
http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...SRM2/srm2.html

That's what I ended up with anyways when I did my search and has a similar budget. I think the Sierra-2's sound incrementally better, especially for music.
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post #15 of 45 Old 02-24-2017, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate everyone's options here. Personally I don't believe that posts like this are pointless as it is good to get peoples opinions on a particular product and why they like or dislike it. Doesn't necessarily mean that I am going to like what they like, it's just good to get the insight. After all that's what theses forums are for, to share Knowledge ideas and opinions. In the perfect world it would be great to be able to bring different speakers home and audition them. But how many audio stores let you take home expensive speakers for testing purposes. At least non that I know of here. Listening to the speakers at the stores is good but not always accurate because not all the store carry the same brands and one store may have a particualr brand connected to a McIntosh amp while the other has another brand connected to an Cambridge audio amp and they all have different rooms acoustics etc..

So with that being said I have narrowed down a few stores selling these brands and plan on checking them out this weekend.
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post #16 of 45 Old 02-24-2017, 01:21 PM
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This is the first time I have EVER heard of B&W speakers sounding "bright".

Since you're in Southern Ontario (I'm in Ottawa, grew up in Hamilton), Visions Electronics and 2001 Audio/Video are the places to shop for speakers. Kef would probably be the best choice to "match" your B&W surrounds, and you could possible get a third R100 to act as your centre instead of the MUCH pricier R200c.

Check out PSB, Paradigm, and Totem - all Canadian companies with very good distribution. I know that Bay-Bloor Radio sells Totem, Wharfedale, Revel, etc. East Hamilton Radio has Paradigm, Klipsch, Martin Logan, etc.
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post #17 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigpig View Post
This is the first time I have EVER heard of B&W speakers sounding "bright".
None of the B&W speakers I've owned have been bright in the least; neutral is the best word to describe them.

While they can be on the expensive side they are made to last; all those I bought in the mid 80s are in daily use today, 7 speakers in total, (3 pairs of bookshelves and one center).

They also hold their value very well.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #18 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 10:09 AM
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I have to agree. IMO, B&W are not bright and do sound very good, though the Kef are very comparable and the current price on the Q series is very good, may be worth a listen while at 2001 audio or other audio shop.

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post #19 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
None of the B&W speakers I've owned have been bright in the least; neutral is the best word to describe them.

While they can be on the expensive side they are made to last; all those I bought in the mid 80s are in daily use today, 7 speakers in total, (3 pairs of bookshelves and one center).

They also hold their value very well.
Are all of your B&W speakers from the 80's?
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post #20 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by PrestigeAudio View Post
Are all of your B&W speakers from the 80's?
Yes indeed.

I asked in the B&W thread where a B&W representative posts answers to questions and asked him if the CM1 Concept 90 bookshelves from back then still reflected the current sound of their smaller bookshelves, (the Concept 90s have 5" drives and a dome tweeter), and he said yes.

My daughter uses them as her mains and paired with a sub they still sound great.

I have some DM100i's I use as my rears with my Usher V602/603 front three and they blend admirably.

My mains in my current secondary 2/2 (and 3/2 for TV) are Martin Logan LX16s and they and the Q Acoustics Concept 90s are brighter in sound signature.

I still enjoy the B&W sound but I've never owned any Nautilus B&Ws and the like as they are simply too pricey for me.

Geoff A. J., California

Last edited by gajCA; 02-25-2017 at 01:54 PM.
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post #21 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigpig View Post
This is the first time I have EVER heard of B&W speakers sounding "bright".

Since you're in Southern Ontario (I'm in Ottawa, grew up in Hamilton), Visions Electronics and 2001 Audio/Video are the places to shop for speakers. Kef would probably be the best choice to "match" your B&W surrounds, and you could possible get a third R100 to act as your centre instead of the MUCH pricier R200c.

Check out PSB, Paradigm, and Totem - all Canadian companies with very good distribution. I know that Bay-Bloor Radio sells Totem, Wharfedale, Revel, etc. East Hamilton Radio has Paradigm, Klipsch, Martin Logan, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
None of the B&W speakers I've owned have been bright in the least; neutral is the best word to describe them.

While they can be on the expensive side they are made to last; all those I bought in the mid 80s are in daily use today, 7 speakers in total, (3 pairs of bookshelves and one center).

They also hold their value very well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pase22 View Post
I have to agree. IMO, B&W are not bright and do sound very good, though the Kef are very comparable and the current price on the Q series is very good, may be worth a listen while at 2001 audio or other audio shop.
I find the 600 series to made to hit a price point or appeal to someone shopping at Best Buy (nothing wrong with that, but name brand cloute goes a long way in big box) and NOT in step with a lot of what B&W is known for. Thin and shrill when even at mid volumes is what I have always gotten when demoing them.

The CM series is good, but not anything special, IMO. I think that B&W is known for the 800 series and nautilus lines and, frankly, they kind of mail it in after that when compared to a lot of other speaker companies in those price points.

And, look, before anyone says I'm biased because of business, I'm absolutely NOT. I'm an equal opportunity hater when it comes to loudspeakers. If something's great or good, it is what it is and I have no loyalties in that way. KEF has made some speakers I think are garbage and I'm not afraid to call them out for it. Same with Monitor (since they are mentioned in this thread), Klipsch, etc. etc. Almost EVERY speaker manufacturer has holes in their line or doesn't really nail it at every price point. That's just the way it is. I can only think of a handful of companies where every single product I have ever used from them has been a home run. B&W is NOT on that list for me.
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post #22 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
I currently own little KEF satillites and they sound great for their size, but they are satellites. I'm basically trying to consider a few brands before dropping $2000 to make sure I get something I am really going to enjoy.
I would seriously consider the Q300 bookshelves and Q600 CC at Visions....on sale, under budget and then you have enough left over for a serious sub upgrade....a SVS SB2000 would fit the bill and would give you a far greater impact on your music and HT than you thought possible.
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post #23 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 03:59 PM
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I can only think of a handful of companies where every single product I have ever used from them has been a home run. B&W is NOT on that list for me.
Truly I can't think of a company who's every product has been a home run to be honest.

Cars, motorcycles, phones, computers...you name it.

I think that is impossible to be honest.

Even Apple had flops.

I've never NOT liked any B&W product I've owned but I have not bought any in decades simply on bang for buck.
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post #24 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 04:23 PM
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Truly I can't think of a company who's every product has been a home run to be honest.
Monoprice cables---audio and computer. Must have ordered over a dozen of different types over the years, all top notch and great pricing.

Outdoor Research hats. Am on my 4th (all different models) and they've all been awesome. A bit pricey, but perfectly functional and nothing else on the market quite like them.

~ 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 #25 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 04:34 PM
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I've purchased a couple of Affordable Accuracy speakers and center channel from Dennis Murphy's Philharmonic Audio company and they are simply awesome. Have a look at his speakers at philharmonicaudio.com. Dennis is very open and it's basically his modesty and sincerity that convinced me to purchase from him.
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Philharmonic Audio Affordable Accuracy Monitors as Main speakers
Philharmonic Audio Affordable Accuracy Center Channel
NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini Monitors as Surround Speakers (4)
Dayton Audio Sub-1000 10" Subwoofers (2)
Marantz SR5013 Receiver + Sony XBR65X750D 65" 4K TV + Mac Mini + Apple TV 4K + PS4

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post #26 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 07:14 PM
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I'm currently trying out a pair of SVS Prime Bookshelves. 45 day trial thru SVS, cant beat that!

After two days, I dont think they will be leaving my house!
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Last edited by ingramba; 02-25-2017 at 07:17 PM.
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post #27 of 45 Old 02-25-2017, 07:20 PM
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I have the sierra 2s and they are spectacular. I have NOT auditioned any other speakers in this price range in MY room, but I have heard a few in local retail outlets. I LIKE supporting smaller companies, so I was already drawn to PhilHarmonocs and ascend and salk.
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post #28 of 45 Old 02-26-2017, 04:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestigeAudio View Post
I find the 600 series to made to hit a price point or appeal to someone shopping at Best Buy (nothing wrong with that, but name brand cloute goes a long way in big box) and NOT in step with a lot of what B&W is known for. Thin and shrill when even at mid volumes is what I have always gotten when demoing them.

The CM series is good, but not anything special, IMO. I think that B&W is known for the 800 series and nautilus lines and, frankly, they kind of mail it in after that when compared to a lot of other speaker companies in those price points.

And, look, before anyone says I'm biased because of business, I'm absolutely NOT. I'm an equal opportunity hater when it comes to loudspeakers. If something's great or good, it is what it is and I have no loyalties in that way. KEF has made some speakers I think are garbage and I'm not afraid to call them out for it. Same with Monitor (since they are mentioned in this thread), Klipsch, etc. etc. Almost EVERY speaker manufacturer has holes in their line or doesn't really nail it at every price point. That's just the way it is. I can only think of a handful of companies where every single product I have ever used from them has been a home run. B&W is NOT on that list for me.
Seems a little harsh critique but everyone has their listening preferences and opinions I understand.

I've owned B&W DM302, DM303, 685's, CDM2's, and listened extensively to my friends 602 S3's, CDM 9NT's, and 804's. My 685's were anything but thin and shrill. They had an immense engaging sound. A little too much bass actually. Around the same time I also had PSB Image B6's and Paradigm Mini Monitors V6. The 685's were every bit as good as those. The CDM2's were better than all three. Now the 302's to me sounded exactly like you described the 600 series. They were unlistenable for me. 303's were muddy and poor imaging. The CDM9NT's were great though I did think a little on the bright side, but that may have been due to eq. The 804's are incredible.

I agree every speaker manufacturer has holes in their lines. Not necessarily a hole, but you can only do so much at a particular budget. You said B&W is not a company where every single product has been a home run for you. There's not one speaker manufacturer where that is the case and if anyone says that they are lying or delusional lol. The B&W 805 doesn't cost more than the 685 S2 just because it looks different. You always have to use the caveat "for the price."

Marantz NR1609 / Yamaha CD-S300 / XBOX One X
Def Tech SM45 / Def Tech CLR 2002 / JBL Surrounds / Martin Logan Dynamo 300 / HiFiMan HE400i
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post #29 of 45 Old 02-26-2017, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ingramba View Post
I'm currently trying out a pair of SVS Prime Bookshelves. 45 day trial thru SVS, cant beat that!

After two days, I dont think they will be leaving my house!
Curious: What other speakers have you heard/compared to them?

~ 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 #30 of 45 Old 02-26-2017, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post
Seems a little harsh critique but everyone has their listening preferences and opinions I understand.

I've owned B&W DM302, DM303, 685's, CDM2's, and listened extensively to my friends 602 S3's, CDM 9NT's, and 804's. My 685's were anything but thin and shrill. They had an immense engaging sound. A little too much bass actually. Around the same time I also had PSB Image B6's and Paradigm Mini Monitors V6. The 685's were every bit as good as those. The CDM2's were better than all three. Now the 302's to me sounded exactly like you described the 600 series. They were unlistenable for me. 303's were muddy and poor imaging. The CDM9NT's were great though I did think a little on the bright side, but that may have been due to eq. The 804's are incredible.

I agree every speaker manufacturer has holes in their lines. Not necessarily a hole, but you can only do so much at a particular budget. You said B&W is not a company where every single product has been a home run for you. There's not one speaker manufacturer where that is the case and if anyone says that they are lying or delusional lol. The B&W 805 doesn't cost more than the 685 S2 just because it looks different. You always have to use the caveat "for the price."
The 600 series, to me, is the most damning thing in B&W's line. The CM product is good, I'm just not of the opinion it's anything that B&W is known for and it strays a little from their center.

My overall point is not that listening preference don't matter. They absolutely, 100% do! What I am saying, however, is that some companies are consistent in their message and how they do things and this plays well from the top down throughout their entire line while others will sacrifice values and quality to hit a price point or to be in big box or sell online, etc. etc.

From my experience (which is 17 years of working with various speaker & electronic manufacturers) speaker companies where everything I've used (basically every series of product since, we'll say, 2006) is absolutely great at their given price point and fit their intended purpose, while staying consistent in either quality or engineering. There are no dogs, so to speak, in their lines:

- Phase Technology
- James Loudspeaker
- RBH
- Monitor Audio.
- Triad
- NEAR

I have not used one product from the above companies at any price point that was underwhelming or not representative of who they are in a positive way. They provide quality and consistency through and through. That's not to say they are all better than any others. That's up to individual opinion - and everyone is entitled to theirs, but I can point to engineering and/or quality goods history and they don't stray much. I value that very much when looking at products in general.

R.I.P:

- BG Radia. Unbelievable speaker from the top down that used planar magnetics.

- Snell. THAT was another one. What a great speaker manufacturer and shame on D&M for not knowing what to do with it.

Honorable mentions:

- Atlantic Technology (sorry, but their new line of subs, sound bars, and mini monitors are uninspiring). They used to have it nailed down when they focused on multi-channel systems and the HPAS towers and bookshelves. AT has one foot in the grave, I'm afraid, and is a shadow of it's former self.

- KEF: KEF is going that direction with the elimination of their C series of speakers. That was a DISGUSTING line of speaker. NOTHING redeemable about it. They will get there, IMO, once they have migrated their entire offering over to using Uni-Q and refresh their subs.

Electronic companies: Parasound, Primaluna, SONOS.

Honorable mention: Yamaha. I think they make as good a receiver as anyone, but I haven't used all of their soundbars.

^ That's NOT to say everything the above companies make is better than anyone else's all the time. I'm saying that the above companies, from my experience, make a top shelf, quality product at their price points all the time. From the top of their line all the way down to the bottom, these guys are consistent in their engineering and quality message. They don't cut corners in regards to what they do and I know what I'm going to get every time I have brought in their products at any of their price points.

There are brands outside of A/V that I feel the same about. Everyone has their own opinions and experiences, though.
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