My < $650 Bookshelf Speaker Shootout (Elac, Dali, KEF, Wharfedale, Pioneer Elite etc) - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 29 Old 05-20-2019, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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My < $650 Bookshelf Speaker Shootout (Elac, Dali, KEF, Wharfedale, Pioneer Elite etc)

Hi all!

I just completed a fun amateur audiophile project to replace my home theater receiver and front/rear speakers which involved auditioning several popular budget audiophile stand mount speakers in my listening/home theater room. My decision on which speakers to keep was based solely on pure direct two channel stereo music as that was my priority over home theater. All speakers selected for the shootout had a matching center since the plan was to buy the matching surrounds for whichever fronts I chose. This means I couldn’t audition the Definitive Technology Demand series since they didn’t have a matching center

Speakers auditioned:
KEF Q350 $650 (Edited: Mistakenly typed Q300 first)
Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 $280
Elac Uni-Fi UB5 $399
Dali Oberon 1 $550
Pioneer Elite Andrew Jones SP-EBS73 $499
Polk Rti A3 $240
Wharfedale Diamond 225 $350
Monitor Audio 2 Bronze $499

My outgoing receiver was a 2012 Yamaha RX-v673 which is reviewed at whathifi.

My outgoing speakers were the 2002 Energy Connoisseur C-3 model which are reviewed at Soundstagenetwork.

My home theater room is a carpeted rectangular room with dimensions roughly 22 ft long x 13 ft wide x 12 ft ceiling. The corners of the room have foam bass traps and the dry wall is half inch double panel with acoustic glue between each panel all around. It’s a nicely damped space. Left and right Speakers were spaced 9 ft from my listening seat and toed in towards the sweet spot with 9 ft between them with about 15-18 inches from the rear or side wall. The back wall has 2 x 4 ft of acoustic foam behind the 75” TV. Stands are filled with sand and were setup so most tweeters were ear level when listening. I didn’t have time to burn in speakers for 100hours so everything was heard as they are out of the box. I figured the speakers entire demeanor wouldn’t change drastically and I had to return the speakers sooner better than later.

The new receiver I decided on after a similar shoot out was a Marantz SR5013. I chose this over several receivers which now that I think about it, is an entirely new post in itself lol. I will just say this, the Marantz definitely sounded better in my room with my Energy speakers than comparable Yamaha Aventage, Denon and Sony receivers when used in Pure Direct mode.

Music was all streamed in using Tidal master quality FLAC files using the receivers internal HEOS streaming functionality. I also used a Denon-DVD1910 over optical for CDs along with the Marantz’s Front load USB port with WAV files. The music genres used for comparisons were jazz like Diana Krall and Norah Jones, female vocalists like Sarah McLachlan and Kirsty Hawkshaw, lots of acoustic folk with guitars and vocals like Lou Rhodes, piano music from Hania Rani, soundtracks and classically inspired music by Max Richter, soundtracks by Hans Zimmer and some drum n bass and techno DJ music. I used some old Bass 305 subwoofer CDs as well to compare their bass output.

Listening highlights:

KEF Q350 - Everything sounded good. Silky. Refined. Sweet. Pleasing. These along with the Wharfedale’s were infinitely easy to listen to. They reminded me of each other but the KEFs seem to have more definition or clarity. They couldn’t match the Diamonds bass though. Ultimately they weren’t exciting enough with some of my favorites songs to keep them. The soundstage wasn’t as wide and tall as I was hoping. Vocals didn’t come out and touch me where I sit. My hair didn’t stand up. From reviews I was expecting a more holographic and enveloping sound. They also felt too laid back for my tastes in my room with my music. I tried propping them up higher since the tweeter is on the center of the woofer, but it didn’t sound noticeably different. They certainly looked amazing in my room in white. My wife wanted these the most just on design. I wanted these to win, bummer.

Elac Uni-Fi UB5 $399 - In my setup, these sounded dark, slow and dull. I don’t know why. I did not get past 3 of my favorite songs. Maybe they need more juice?

Dali Oberon 1 $550 - These simply couldn’t put out a comparable soundstage to my existing Energy’s so I passed on them after 3 songs. They sounded like smaller speakers and they were indeed the smallest. They had a nice sound signature but it sounded like the speakers made things a bit sweeter than they really are, it was a nice sound, but maybe not so natural? I could see these making any sort of music sound good, I probably should have compared the Zensor 3’s instead but I couldn’t find a pair and the Oberon 3’s did not review well on what hi-fi.

Pioneer Elite Andrew Jones SP-EBS73 $499 - After 3 songs I already preferred the Diamonds and KEFs to these so back in the box they went. They sounded better in my room than the Uni-Fi’s but overall they didn’t do anything to win me over past what I had heard already from the KEF or Diamonds. Or even my Energy’s for that matter.

Polk Rti A3 $240 - These shouldn’t have been in the comparison. They were quite bad. Almost immediate pass when compared to my old Energy’s. They looked good, and had nice low volume bass output but tonality to me was just so off on my first few listens.

Wharfedale Diamond 225 $350 - Amazing speakers. So easy to listen to. Very Impressive bass in my room. Possibly the best bass output along with the Monitor Audios. Not as clear as the KEFs in the kids and highs. More impact then the KEF. Not as sweet in the Vocals as the KEF but so very close. I tried them bi-amped also. I couldn’t hear a difference but was impressed with their overall value at $350 having features like that. If money is a factor, I would get these over the KEFs and enjoy a very similar sound. Overall, like the KEF, they weren’t as visceral or exciting on some tracks as I desired. More laidback. They look great in white. I was able to generate a bit of cabinet noise on loud piano based music. That was off putting. Only my old Energy’s had this cabinet resonance with the same song.

Monitor Audio 2 Bronze $499: I really wanted these to be contenders just based on looks and fit and finish. They have terrific bass extension but they are just too bright. Some of my favorite vocal tracks got shrill to my ears. I really liked the tone of some guitar music and piano music on these but not enough to get over the brightness. There was also less noticeable of a gap between quieter and louder moments on the same songs when hearing these speakers which made them feel less dynamic.

Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 $280: Overall, these sounded the best in my room as much as I didn’t want them too. They were almost the cheapest of the bunch and I didn’t particular care for the way they looked. Compared to the white Diamonds or white KEFs they are so passable on looks. But their sound continually raised hairs on my neck. My ears heard a soundstage up near my ceiling that wasn’t heard with any of the other speakers. I could hear sounds out to the left and right of the speakers and vocals were closer to me than with any of the other speakers. They were more forward and I liked it. Some songs almost produced a phantom rear sound effect. The KEF were sweeter but by a small degree that I enjoyed but I wanted the wider, taller, soundstage, immediacy, attack, presence, excitement and impact more. These sounded the biggest of all the speakers in the group and they might be dimensionally. They were the most revealing in my setup. I heard things I wasn’t hearing on the other speakers. I don’t have to turn these up as loud to get the same perceived emotion out of a vocal. At moments, i heard things I didn’t pick up on with the other speakers that I didn’t particularly like. But it was just the recording. These are very true and honest. No added sweetener or calming of potentially rough sounds. If it’s on the recording I am going to hear it. At times, I can feel a bit of fatigue that didn’t occur with the KEFs nor the Diamonds, but overall I prefer it and it feels like it would be live. The quick rise and fall of quiet sounds and loud sounds is addicting, and how quickly the attack feels is exciting.

Well there you have it, I just received the matching Elac center, front Atmos module and rear surrounds to match the mains. I am excited to get them plugged in along with my HSU VTF-15 sub Thanks for reading my first post. If I can answer any questions let me know.

P.S the UPS man does not like me haha

Last edited by AamirS; 05-23-2019 at 09:54 AM.
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post #2 of 29 Old 05-20-2019, 08:35 PM
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Always interesting and entertaining to read what people think of multiple speakers auditioned together. In the perfect world, everybody would be able to do this and choose the pair their ears like best. I guess you kind of lucked out in a way that your ears chose a lesser priced pair than most of the others you auditioned. Everybody hears things in their own way and there is no set pair of speakers that are always better than another to everybody. Example being you didn't like the Polk RTIA3, yet I find the RTIA1's I have to be some really nice speakers with detail and clarity, yet not overly bright. They sound great to me with the VTF-15H mk2, which it looks like you also have. Anyway, thanks for the insights ans congrats on selecting the winner of your shootout. Your wallet thanks you.

Subs>RBH I-12e/I-12. HSU VTF-15H mk2. Monolith THX 12(x2)/THX 10(x2). XTZ 1X12. SVS PB-1000(x2). Speakers>JBL Studio 530/520c, 270/230/235c/225c, Arena 130/125c. Jamo S807/S803. Pioneer FS52/BS22A/C22. Sony CS3/CS8/CS5. QA 3020i/3090Ci, 2020i/2000c. Monolith AM Cinema 5 bs. Polk RTiA1/CsiA4. Infinity R152. Other Audio>Sony MDR-Z7m2, WH-XB700, XB32, XB31.RBH EP1. Logitech GPro HS. Plantronics RIG 500 Pro HS. LG FH6,RK8,PK5,PH4. UE Boom3.
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post #3 of 29 Old 05-20-2019, 09:38 PM
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I agree with the above post.

Most people that have heard the Qx00 series said they were too foward in their treble and almost hard to listen to. But to you, they were too laid back. Just goes to show how different everyone’s ears are.

Same with the Elac’s. I can’t remember where but someone had mentioned they had a midrange suck out, far from an exciting speaker if so, but you liked them the best.

At the end of the day, you ended up with the best speakers for your ears. Enjoy.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #4 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIX_MASTER_ICE View Post
Always interesting and entertaining to read what people think of multiple speakers auditioned together. In the perfect world, everybody would be able to do this and choose the pair their ears like best. I guess you kind of lucked out in a way that your ears chose a lesser priced pair than most of the others you auditioned. Everybody hears things in their own way and there is no set pair of speakers that are always better than another to everybody. Example being you didn't like the Polk RTIA3, yet I find the RTIA1's I have to be some really nice speakers with detail and clarity, yet not overly bright. They sound great to me with the VTF-15H mk2, which it looks like you also have. Anyway, thanks for the insights ans congrats on selecting the winner of your shootout. Your wallet thanks you.
Well put. I think every speaker has a different flavor and personality in each application, with the speakers being heavily dependent on the room, listening position and the amplifier/receiver and source.

When I was selecting my receiver, my Energy's sounded very different with each receiver I tried even though they were indeed the same speakers in the same location with nothing else changing.

In your room in your setup, I am sure your Polk speakers do indeed sound better than they did in my experience. When I was at Best Buy listening in the store, I can definitely say that the sound heard at the store from some of the speakers didn't translate perfectly to the sound heard in my room in my listening chair with my gear and config.

I guess the real takeaway here is listen in your room with your music in your chair with your gear =)
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post #5 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
I agree with the above post.

Most people that have heard the Qx00 series said they were too foward in their treble and almost hard to listen to. But to you, they were too laid back. Just goes to show how different everyone’s ears are.

Same with the Elac’s. I can’t remember where but someone had mentioned they had a midrange suck out, far from an exciting speaker if so, but you liked them the best.

At the end of the day, you ended up with the best speakers for your ears. Enjoy.
Thanks! I'd definitely chalk it up to the room they are in and the receiver/amp used. Even when I raised the KEF's and got the tweeter section at ear level they were still unable to bite my ear with any material I had. The Elac's can fatigue my ear faster than the KEF's. There is a distinct feeling of more going on, more drama with the Elac's. I am sure if I changed my receiver out again, I may have a totally different choice on the speakers. No changes for atleast a couple years now though, i HOPE!
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post #6 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I just realized a major typo. I had the KEF Q350 model. Not the 300s!
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post #7 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AamirS View Post
I just realized a major typo. I had the KEF Q350 model. Not the 300s!
Might want to make that edit in your initial post.

Thanks for the shootout and congrats on spending the time and effort to do it and for sharing.
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post #8 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 10:53 AM
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Enjoy your speakers! However, as an aside, it really should have been the Polk LSiM 703’s that go for about 300 each in your lineup.
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post #9 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Might want to make that edit in your initial post.

Thanks for the shootout and congrats on spending the time and effort to do it and for sharing.
Somehow there does not appear to be any type of edit functionality. Maybe because I am a new user.
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post #10 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Enjoy your speakers! However, as an aside, it really should have been the Polk LSiM 703’s that go for about 300 each in your lineup.
I haven't heard of that specific model. Did they get as much attention as the Rti series? I was really curious to try the Rti's just based on all the glowing reviews I had seen floating around.
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post #11 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 12:27 PM
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I haven't heard of that specific model. Did they get as much attention as the Rti series? I was really curious to try the Rti's just based on all the glowing reviews I had seen floating around.

The LSiM's are the curent flagship line of Polk speakers.


https://www.audioholics.com/bookshel...-audio-lsim703


Currently going for 399 each, but typically on sale for 299 each:


https://www.adorama.com/g/polk-audio...ce=rflaid62905
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post #12 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 12:50 PM
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I have a good friend who recently replaced his Martin Logan electrostatic speakers with the Paradigm Persona 3F for about $8K a pair. He's always impressed by how my Elac B6.2 with a subwoofer (crossover at 60 Hz) sounds. I'm driving them with a Yamaha RX-A3080.
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post #13 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a good friend who recently replaced his Martin Logan electrostatic speakers with the Paradigm Persona 3F for about $8K a pair. He's always impressed by how my Elac B6.2 with a subwoofer (crossover at 60 Hz) sounds. I'm driving them with a Yamaha RX-A3080.
Have you had a chance to listen to a few of your favorite songs on his setup?
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post #14 of 29 Old 05-21-2019, 07:39 PM
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I just realized a major typo. I had the KEF Q350 model. Not the 300s!
I was kind of wondering about that from your original post. I have the q100s and they are certainly the opposite of laid back, although I believe maybe the q300s are a bit different sounding. The q150s are a bit laid back in the mids, so its not surprising that the q350s would be as well.

That's awesome that you were able to compare so many speakers and thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you ever do compare any again, I would suggest that you give speakers more than just a short time listening. Sometimes there are other things you can do to help the sound such as EQ'ing, speaker placement, or even just giving them time to break in (or maybe for your ears to break in). Although, with that many speakers I know that can get a bit tedious.

In the end, you did the best thing and that is to try all your choices in YOUR room and let YOUR ears decide the winner. You can definitely know you made the right choice instead of always wondering (like I have many times)!
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post #15 of 29 Old 05-22-2019, 08:21 AM
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Have you had a chance to listen to a few of your favorite songs on his setup?

Yes. The Paradigms were better at giving the impression that I was listening to a live performance, but it's a personal decision whether that's worth an increase in over $7,500 in cost. Dr. Floyd Toole has a YouTube presentation where he gives examples of frequency response curves for speakers of various price ranges. One example is a pair of speakers that cost $200. With a sub, he felt the sound reproduction would be impressive. I've included the slide he prepared of his measurements.
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Yes. The Paradigms were better at giving the impression that I was listening to a live performance, but it's a personal decision whether that's worth an increase in over $7,500 in cost. Dr. Floyd Toole has a YouTube presentation where he gives examples of frequency response curves for speakers of various price ranges. One example is a pair of speakers that cost $200. With a sub, he felt the sound reproduction would be impressive. I've included the slide he prepared of his measurements.
What speakers were those?
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post #17 of 29 Old 05-22-2019, 12:47 PM
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What speakers were those?

I don't think he gave the name of the speakers. There were examples of problematic speakers that he also didn't name.


The video of his presentation is really interesting and informative. (It's lengthy.) You can see it here:


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post #18 of 29 Old 05-22-2019, 05:24 PM
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I'm confused...which receiver did you use to do the actual speaker testing?
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post #19 of 29 Old 05-22-2019, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by doyoid View Post
Yes. The Paradigms were better at giving the impression that I was listening to a live performance, but it's a personal decision whether that's worth an increase in over $7,500 in cost. Dr. Floyd Toole has a YouTube presentation where he gives examples of frequency response curves for speakers of various price ranges. One example is a pair of speakers that cost $200. With a sub, he felt the sound reproduction would be impressive. I've included the slide he prepared of his measurements.
Toole has also said on this forum the frequency response of the Persona's leave something to be desired, lol.
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Toole has also said on this forum the frequency response of the Persona's leave something to be desired, lol.

Please provide a link to Dr. Toole's post where he criticizes the Persona 3F. I'd like to read it.
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post #21 of 29 Old 05-22-2019, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm confused...which receiver did you use to do the actual speaker testing?
All speakers were auditioned with a Marantz SR5013.
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post #22 of 29 Old 05-23-2019, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I was kind of wondering about that from your original post. I have the q100s and they are certainly the opposite of laid back, although I believe maybe the q300s are a bit different sounding. The q150s are a bit laid back in the mids, so its not surprising that the q350s would be as well.

That's awesome that you were able to compare so many speakers and thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you ever do compare any again, I would suggest that you give speakers more than just a short time listening. Sometimes there are other things you can do to help the sound such as EQ'ing, speaker placement, or even just giving them time to break in (or maybe for your ears to break in). Although, with that many speakers I know that can get a bit tedious.

In the end, you did the best thing and that is to try all your choices in YOUR room and let YOUR ears decide the winner. You can definitely know you made the right choice instead of always wondering (like I have many times)!
I finally fixed the typo in the original post. My user appears to have full functionality and permissions now. Just to clear any confusion, attached is the KEF Q350 I auditioned!

If a forward mid-range is what I am hearing with the Elac B6.2 in terms of vocals and song elements feeling as if they are much closer and intimate, with a more immediate presence, then the KEF's definitely sounded laid back in comparison. The center of the KEF sound stage was closer to the rear wall than out in the middle of my room trying to touch my ears at my listening position.

I wish I had more time to play with each speaker and get into more positioning and EQ experiments with Audyssey but after a week of switching speakers back and forth my back started feeling it from all the lifting and I was worried that I might ding a cabinet and void a return by accident lol.

The feeling of being able to visualize sounds in front of my face, or behind my head, or outside the boundaries of my side walls was the "magic" i was looking for the most, I thought "can that effect that really change with EQ'ing or burn in time?" And if it could, do I know where or how to dial in each speaker, can my existing gear dial it in to begin with if all I have is Audyssey MultEQ? That is why I just settled for Pure Direct from beginning to end.

I know toe-in angle can effect the imaging sound stage magic I was thinking about and I did try each of the first three songs toed in and toed straight out, I guess felt like either a speaker design has the magic or it does not when used inside a given, standardized configuration. Hopefully in a few years i will be upgrading again and will set the bar at $1500 for fronts and the receiver and I will try a more thorough listening and experimentation routine. My wallet is happy that the second cheapest speakers did the trick this time =) More gear money for next time haa
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Hi,

I am looking to buy the wharfedale MI 602 in wall speakers for a HT set up can any body how good are they ? I am using MI 601 for the surround and wcm 80 for the atmos and sw12 woofer. The reciever I am using is denon x4500.

Please can anyone advice on this setup.
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post #24 of 29 Old 05-24-2019, 05:42 PM
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I finally fixed the typo in the original post. My user appears to have full functionality and permissions now. Just to clear any confusion, attached is the KEF Q350 I auditioned!

If a forward mid-range is what I am hearing with the Elac B6.2 in terms of vocals and song elements feeling as if they are much closer and intimate, with a more immediate presence, then the KEF's definitely sounded laid back in comparison. The center of the KEF sound stage was closer to the rear wall than out in the middle of my room trying to touch my ears at my listening position.

I wish I had more time to play with each speaker and get into more positioning and EQ experiments with Audyssey but after a week of switching speakers back and forth my back started feeling it from all the lifting and I was worried that I might ding a cabinet and void a return by accident lol.

The feeling of being able to visualize sounds in front of my face, or behind my head, or outside the boundaries of my side walls was the "magic" i was looking for the most, I thought "can that effect that really change with EQ'ing or burn in time?" And if it could, do I know where or how to dial in each speaker, can my existing gear dial it in to begin with if all I have is Audyssey MultEQ? That is why I just settled for Pure Direct from beginning to end.

I know toe-in angle can effect the imaging sound stage magic I was thinking about and I did try each of the first three songs toed in and toed straight out, I guess felt like either a speaker design has the magic or it does not when used inside a given, standardized configuration. Hopefully in a few years i will be upgrading again and will set the bar at $1500 for fronts and the receiver and I will try a more thorough listening and experimentation routine. My wallet is happy that the second cheapest speakers did the trick this time =) More gear money for next time haa
I understand that it got to be a bit tedious and even physically exhausting moving all those speakers. My apologies if I came across as picking on your testing methods. The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that if you have a bunch of speakers testing side by side, the more likely you can immediately pick out a sound signature you prefer best. You certainly took the best route in hearing them all for yourself in your room. So hats off to you for letting your own ears pick a winner. Bonus points for you preferring one of the cheaper options!
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post #25 of 29 Old 05-24-2019, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by D33vious View Post
I understand that it got to be a bit tedious and even physically exhausting moving all those speakers. My apologies if I came across as picking on your testing methods. The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that if you have a bunch of speakers testing side by side, the more likely you can immediately pick out a sound signature you prefer best. You certainly took the best route in hearing them all for yourself in your room. So hats off to you for letting your own ears pick a winner. Bonus points for you preferring one of the cheaper options!
i have heard the elac's several times.. they don't suck , they aren't bright, they are semi refined for the price, bottom end isn't bloated..he made a decent choice imo..
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YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #26 of 29 Old 05-24-2019, 10:36 PM
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Hi all!



I just completed a fun amateur audiophile project to replace my home theater receiver and front/rear speakers which involved auditioning several popular budget audiophile stand mount speakers in my listening/home theater room. My decision on which speakers to keep was based solely on pure direct two channel stereo music as that was my priority over home theater. All speakers selected for the shootout had a matching center since the plan was to buy the matching surrounds for whichever fronts I chose. This means I couldn’t audition the Definitive Technology Demand series since they didn’t have a matching center



Speakers auditioned:

KEF Q350 $650 (Edited: Mistakenly typed Q300 first)

Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 $280

Elac Uni-Fi UB5 $399

Dali Oberon 1 $550

Pioneer Elite Andrew Jones SP-EBS73 $499

Polk Rti A3 $240

Wharfedale Diamond 225 $350

Monitor Audio 2 Bronze $499



My outgoing receiver was a 2012 Yamaha RX-v673 which is reviewed at whathifi.



My outgoing speakers were the 2002 Energy Connoisseur C-3 model which are reviewed at Soundstagenetwork.



My home theater room is a carpeted rectangular room with dimensions roughly 22 ft long x 13 ft wide x 12 ft ceiling. The corners of the room have foam bass traps and the dry wall is half inch double panel with acoustic glue between each panel all around. It’s a nicely damped space. Left and right Speakers were spaced 9 ft from my listening seat and toed in towards the sweet spot with 9 ft between them with about 15-18 inches from the rear or side wall. The back wall has 2 x 4 ft of acoustic foam behind the 75” TV. Stands are filled with sand and were setup so most tweeters were ear level when listening. I didn’t have time to burn in speakers for 100hours so everything was heard as they are out of the box. I figured the speakers entire demeanor wouldn’t change drastically and I had to return the speakers sooner better than later.



The new receiver I decided on after a similar shoot out was a Marantz SR5013. I chose this over several receivers which now that I think about it, is an entirely new post in itself lol. I will just say this, the Marantz definitely sounded better in my room with my Energy speakers than comparable Yamaha Aventage, Denon and Sony receivers when used in Pure Direct mode.



Music was all streamed in using Tidal master quality FLAC files using the receivers internal HEOS streaming functionality. I also used a Denon-DVD1910 over optical for CDs along with the Marantz’s Front load USB port with WAV files. The music genres used for comparisons were jazz like Diana Krall and Norah Jones, female vocalists like Sarah McLachlan and Kirsty Hawkshaw, lots of acoustic folk with guitars and vocals like Lou Rhodes, piano music from Hania Rani, soundtracks and classically inspired music by Max Richter, soundtracks by Hans Zimmer and some drum n bass and techno DJ music. I used some old Bass 305 subwoofer CDs as well to compare their bass output.



Listening highlights:



KEF Q350 - Everything sounded good. Silky. Refined. Sweet. Pleasing. These along with the Wharfedale’s were infinitely easy to listen to. They reminded me of each other but the KEFs seem to have more definition or clarity. They couldn’t match the Diamonds bass though. Ultimately they weren’t exciting enough with some of my favorites songs to keep them. The soundstage wasn’t as wide and tall as I was hoping. Vocals didn’t come out and touch me where I sit. My hair didn’t stand up. From reviews I was expecting a more holographic and enveloping sound. They also felt too laid back for my tastes in my room with my music. I tried propping them up higher since the tweeter is on the center of the woofer, but it didn’t sound noticeably different. They certainly looked amazing in my room in white. My wife wanted these the most just on design. I wanted these to win, bummer.



Elac Uni-Fi UB5 $399 - In my setup, these sounded dark, slow and dull. I don’t know why. I did not get past 3 of my favorite songs. Maybe they need more juice?



Dali Oberon 1 $550 - These simply couldn’t put out a comparable soundstage to my existing Energy’s so I passed on them after 3 songs. They sounded like smaller speakers and they were indeed the smallest. They had a nice sound signature but it sounded like the speakers made things a bit sweeter than they really are, it was a nice sound, but maybe not so natural? I could see these making any sort of music sound good, I probably should have compared the Zensor 3’s instead but I couldn’t find a pair and the Oberon 3’s did not review well on what hi-fi.



Pioneer Elite Andrew Jones SP-EBS73 $499 - After 3 songs I already preferred the Diamonds and KEFs to these so back in the box they went. They sounded better in my room than the Uni-Fi’s but overall they didn’t do anything to win me over past what I had heard already from the KEF or Diamonds. Or even my Energy’s for that matter.



Polk Rti A3 $240 - These shouldn’t have been in the comparison. They were quite bad. Almost immediate pass when compared to my old Energy’s. They looked good, and had nice low volume bass output but tonality to me was just so off on my first few listens.



Wharfedale Diamond 225 $350 - Amazing speakers. So easy to listen to. Very Impressive bass in my room. Possibly the best bass output along with the Monitor Audios. Not as clear as the KEFs in the kids and highs. More impact then the KEF. Not as sweet in the Vocals as the KEF but so very close. I tried them bi-amped also. I couldn’t hear a difference but was impressed with their overall value at $350 having features like that. If money is a factor, I would get these over the KEFs and enjoy a very similar sound. Overall, like the KEF, they weren’t as visceral or exciting on some tracks as I desired. More laidback. They look great in white. I was able to generate a bit of cabinet noise on loud piano based music. That was off putting. Only my old Energy’s had this cabinet resonance with the same song.



Monitor Audio 2 Bronze $499: I really wanted these to be contenders just based on looks and fit and finish. They have terrific bass extension but they are just too bright. Some of my favorite vocal tracks got shrill to my ears. I really liked the tone of some guitar music and piano music on these but not enough to get over the brightness. There was also less noticeable of a gap between quieter and louder moments on the same songs when hearing these speakers which made them feel less dynamic.



Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 $280: Overall, these sounded the best in my room as much as I didn’t want them too. They were almost the cheapest of the bunch and I didn’t particular care for the way they looked. Compared to the white Diamonds or white KEFs they are so passable on looks. But their sound continually raised hairs on my neck. My ears heard a soundstage up near my ceiling that wasn’t heard with any of the other speakers. I could hear sounds out to the left and right of the speakers and vocals were closer to me than with any of the other speakers. They were more forward and I liked it. Some songs almost produced a phantom rear sound effect. The KEF were sweeter but by a small degree that I enjoyed but I wanted the wider, taller, soundstage, immediacy, attack, presence, excitement and impact more. These sounded the biggest of all the speakers in the group and they might be dimensionally. They were the most revealing in my setup. I heard things I wasn’t hearing on the other speakers. I don’t have to turn these up as loud to get the same perceived emotion out of a vocal. At moments, i heard things I didn’t pick up on with the other speakers that I didn’t particularly like. But it was just the recording. These are very true and honest. No added sweetener or calming of potentially rough sounds. If it’s on the recording I am going to hear it. At times, I can feel a bit of fatigue that didn’t occur with the KEFs nor the Diamonds, but overall I prefer it and it feels like it would be live. The quick rise and fall of quiet sounds and loud sounds is addicting, and how quickly the attack feels is exciting.



Well there you have it, I just received the matching Elac center, front Atmos module and rear surrounds to match the mains. I am excited to get them plugged in along with my HSU VTF-15 sub Thanks for reading my first post. If I can answer any questions let me know.



P.S the UPS man does not like me haha


this was very helpful, especially the q-350 portion. thank you
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post #27 of 29 Old 05-25-2019, 12:38 PM
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Nice write-up and an enjoyable read. Interesting that you chose the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2s. I had a pair for some time. With a subwoofer they are definitely pretty decent especially if purchased at the sale $150 price. Personally, I thought they lacked slightly in resolution. But, that's just me and what's important is that you found speakers that you could live with.
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i have heard the elac's several times.. they don't suck , they aren't bright, they are semi refined for the price, bottom end isn't bloated..he made a decent choice imo..
From memory, I believe just about all of those speakers would be solid choices

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this was very helpful, especially the q-350 portion. thank you
Having owned other kefs, I can understand what the OP means. They are very good with the L/R separation, but do lack somewhat in the 3 dimensional feel compared to some others.
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post #29 of 29 Old 05-25-2019, 03:15 PM
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From memory, I believe just about all of those speakers would be solid choices



Having owned other kefs, I can understand what the OP means. They are very good with the L/R separation, but do lack somewhat in the 3 dimensional feel compared to some others.
Agreed ,all are solid choices in that $$ range

YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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