Best Bookshelf under 3k? - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post


Conclusion - I really liked the Kefs and specials, wish I could listen to them in the same space! Do people really order multiple pairs from crutchfield and just keep the one they like best? Is that a common practice?
A month or two ago I ordered a pair of $500 bookshelves from them and though the package was not damaged one speaker had a small dent on the rear vertical edge; I e'mailed them immediately and they apologized and said I'd get a 10percent refund should I choose to keep them.

Auditioned them and didn't like them at all so returned them.

They refunded ALL my money and took the $10 return shipping fee, (the speakers were in one box), out of some existing rewards points I had.

I ordered another pair of speakers from them immediately that are keepers.

Painless and they couldn't have been more accommodating or responsive via e'mail with profuse apologies for the damaged speaker.

So, in essence if you order two pairs at once and return one pair you will likely pay no return shipping as that charge of returning one pair will come out of the rewards points from the second pair.

But if you liked the KEF and Specials I'd talk to the brick and mortar store about them allowing you to use their floor models over the days they are closed to compare to the KEFs from Best Buy.

I don't like not giving a brick and mortar store that let you audition not to at least have a chance at a sale.

But if they say "no" to the borrowing of floor models then proceed with Crutchfield.

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post #32 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
Really interesting in the Salk and Totem - salks have to be custom built and thus a lead time right?
From what I understand that is correct. Probably worth giving them a call, good folks to talk with. They won't try to upsell you.

Same with Totem. Very loyal following.

I own Ascend Sierra 1's LCR and am very happy with them. If I were looking in your price range I would definitely consider the 2 Ex. Dave makes some wonderful speakers.
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post #33 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:23 AM
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Don't bother with the LS50. They are in a lower class than the rest listed here,
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post #34 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kain View Post
JBL 708i/708P?
Out of his price range... But I would HIGHLY recommend the 705s.
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post #35 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Out of his price range... But I would HIGHLY recommend the 705s.
which one, the b&w?
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post #36 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
I am shortlisting dynaudio special 40, b&w 705s2, buchardt s400, kef ls50/r. Welcome thoughts on those or any others that I need to know about? I live in an apartment so big bass response is not a priority. Listen to bossa nova, blues, vocal, acoustic rock, some jazz..I have Elac ub5s right now which for $500 are incredible - I would guess they are definitely on the warm side as highs seem fairly recessed, definitely non fatiguing. I would prefer to avoid models that you need to really turn up to enjoy (i like moderate most of the time but turn it up for a song or two). Could go for more detail/forward presentation than the UB5s but don't want to jump all the way to the ultra forward/clinical end of the spectrum, just turn it up a nice notch from the elacs. Also dont NEED to spend 3k, if a 2k speaker is a big improvement over the elacs then that might be the way to go, but willing to go up to 3, hear only great things about the dynaudios haha...Appreciate any suggestions!
Dynaudio Special Forty gets good reviews, but I don't think it's worth $3000. I believe that Totem uses Dynaudio drivers in their speakers (Totem is an assembler).

With my own money, I would look at Ascend Acoustics Sierra (various models to choose from), Revel M106, or Martin Logan 35 XT. I was listening to Revel tower speakers and not bookshelf speakers locally, but I found them to have a flat frequency response, and low distortion. Midrange was noticeably cleaner than in the Monitor Audio Silver (which I'm through with, for personal reasons, I find it too warm and smoothed over with my choice of amp). The ML has the air motion tweeter, which is known to best dome tweeters on more expensive speakers, but costs nowhere near what the RAAL does. Look at Madisound or Zaph Audio to find out what the drivers themselves cost.

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post #37 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dan3952 View Post
Dynaudio Special Forty gets good reviews, but I don't think it's worth $3000. I believe that Totem uses Dynaudio drivers in their speakers.

With my own money, I would look at Ascend Acoustics Sierra (various models to choose from ), Revel, or Martin Logan 35 XT. The latter has the air motion tweeter, which is known to best dome tweeters on more expensive speakers, but costs nowhere near what the RAAL does. Look at Madisound or Zaph Audio to find out what the drivers themselves cost.

I'm through with Monitor Audio, for personal reasons. I had found the midrange in their Silver series to be better than in the Totem Rainmakers I had before, but what I have now sounds too warm and smoothed over (with my warm power amp).
I heard the Sierra 2s a couple years ago and thought they were good but wasnt blown away, i understand there is a new model now with a new woofer, but cant seem to find any reviews or comparisons to the old one just yet.
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post #38 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RMW1982 View Post
I own the Ascend Sierra 2EX and the Buchardt S400. They are both excellent choices and I don’t think you’ll go wrong with either.

I also owned the KEF LS50 for a short time, but I found them too bright in my room for my taste, so I ended up selling them.

Most companies offer some type of trial period, so I’d probably audition a few and keep the one you like best.


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Mind comparing the two you own now?


Also, if i buy used on the internet, is the manu warranty valid or void?
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post #39 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
I heard the Sierra 2s a couple years ago and thought they were good but wasnt blown away, i understand there is a new model now with a new woofer, but cant seem to find any reviews or comparisons to the old one just yet.
There's some great reviews here... you might need to sign in to see them.

http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/for...es-Electronics
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post #40 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dan3952 View Post
Dynaudio Special Forty gets good reviews, but I don't think it's worth $3000. I believe that Totem uses Dynaudio drivers in their speakers (Totem is an assembler).
Totem uses Morel drivers. Dynaudio does not sell their drivers to any 3rd party "assembler." Also, $3k is the MSRP. No dealer would sell at MSRP and stay in business. But they do have to advertise that price.
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post #41 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by dan3952 View Post
Dynaudio Special Forty gets good reviews, but I don't think it's worth $3000. I believe that Totem uses Dynaudio drivers in their speakers (Totem is an assembler).
That might be selling them a bit short. Vince has some smarts on how to design cabinets and crossovers to work best with the drivers he's using. I believe he's had his hand in driver development too.
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post #42 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by l0nestar8 View Post
Totem uses Morel drivers. Dynaudio does not sell their drivers to any 3rd party "assembler." Also, $3k is the MSRP. No dealer would sell at MSRP and stay in business. But they do have to advertise that price.
Then perhaps it's time I looked at Totem again. The Monitor Audio salesman had some unkind things to say about the former company which had clouded my judgement. I had Rainmakers before my current speakers, and had ended up disliking them over time.
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post #43 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 12:06 PM
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I auditioned the Evoke 20 and special 40’s, and preferred the Evoke 20’s. Although the S40 has more bass, I suspect with a subwoofer that would be nullified. The top end on the Evike 20’s was remarkably good.

I suspect the Salk Silk’s would blow a lot of these speakers away. Especially if you can get them cheaper on EBay.

I agree with your thoughts on the 705’s - great detail, but the slightly forward nature might get fatiguing after a while.

Also consider Focal Aria speakers. These can be had at a good discount if you know where to look (A4L). I heard the tower version, and they were quite good.


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post #44 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
So many awesome suggestions! So an update, today I was able to demo the Special 40s , R3s, and 705s2 (latter two best buy). The demo room at BB sucked and the R3s had to be 12 feet apart and next to walls and other bookshelfs, 705s closer but also bookshelves on each side, BUT i really liked the the R3s. True to many comments on here, they were laid back and a bit recessed, but they were super holographic (they completely disappeared - is this the UNIQ driver and same vibe i would experience w ls50?), bass was great (punchy and accurate but not boomy), and sounded like a tower speaker. They were def not forward or detailed when it came to vocals and instruments, but they felt really well rounded and enjoyable. Like a much better version and bigger sounding of my current speaker. The 705s were much zingier, more detailed and forward, but i could see them irritating me with a song thats too brassy. Also the room was terrible and that may have made things worse for the 705s. I took the Kefs easily over the BWs.

Then I went to another store and tried the special 40s. Should also mention this room had some treatment and was much better set up than best buys room. Oh my they sounded so good, everything sounded "right" with them. More detailed and forward than the kefs and my elacs, but not in your face like the Bws. The separation of instruments was so good, and guitar plucks sounded amazing (stevie ray vaughn tin pan alley was just so good). Now I did not see the amazing bass experience that others are talking about (it was solid), but the amp was a 50wpc A/B if that makes a difference. But the speakers just sounded perfect in every way and the presentation was so delicate and precise without being clinical or sharp. Total cliche - but i FELT like I was at the concert and havent experienced that with other speakers i tried. I realize I am terrible at describing these terms but doing my best.


Conclusion - I really liked the Kefs and specials, wish I could listen to them in the same space! Kefs more like a favorite pair of jeans (thats analogy not giving them enough credit..) and the Dynaudios like an indulgent dessert that you wont get sick of. Do people really order multiple pairs from crutchfield and just keep the one they like best? Is that a common practice?
From how you described the R3's I highly suggest the Bryston Mini T's. They sound like they'd be what your after, being neutral and smooth yet still highly detailed. They may be at the top of your budget but they sound amazing, and with a 20 year warranty they have the best resale value around if you ever decided to sell them.

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post #45 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 12:13 PM
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Many great options listed here.

I would be most interested in the Buchardt S400, Ascend Sierra-2EX, Dynaudio Special 40, Revel M106, and PMC twenty5.22.

Keep in mind that these are average-sensitivity designs and thus not made for huge spaces, but will play plenty loud in most of our homes.

If you need high SPL with pinpoint imaging, try:

JTR NOESIS 228HT
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post #46 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
which one, the b&w?
He's referring to the JBL 705i/705P.
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post #47 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by l0nestar8 View Post
I have both the LS50 and the UB5. The LS50's are definitely brighter and more forward than the UB5's. If that's what you are looking for, you will probably like them.

However, for $3k I'd aim a little higher and start auditioning everything you can. You could look at the Adante if you want to stay in the Elac family. The Kef R series, as mentioned above, are going to be a little mid-recessed and the opposite of what you want.

I'd recommend:

Elac Adante
Dynaudio Evoke 20/S40
Revel M106
Salk BMR
Ascend Sierra 2EX
Canton Reference
Wharfedale Linton (for something totally different)

All those can be easily ordered online. Beyond that, I'd get out there and make some dealer appointments.
The Elac Adante sound very similar to Bryston Mini T's. They are about the same price, size, weight, and have great soundstage, neutrality and clarity. I'd pick the Mini T's though because I found they have slightly better tonal accuracy, and because of the 20 year warranty.
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post #48 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
BUT i really liked the the R3s. True to many comments on here, they were laid back and a bit recessed, but they were super holographic (they completely disappeared - is this the UNIQ driver and same vibe i would experience w ls50?), bass was great (punchy and accurate but not boomy), and sounded like a tower speaker. They were def not forward or detailed when it came to vocals and instruments, but they felt really well rounded and enjoyable. Like a much better version and bigger sounding of my current speaker.
Without a subwoofer, the R3 might be the best speaker for you, it's true that they are a bit laid back but the great thing about KEF is since their on and off-axis response is so balanced, they can be EQ'd to any response you want. They certainly measure better than any speaker being discussed in this thread, check the R series whitepaper to see.

A few things I like better about the LS50 is that since it's a 2 way, it's a true point source, meaning all the sound is coming from 1 source, which is how sounds in real life are produced and is more natural. The R3, is point source from 400Hz and up but below that the woofer takes over. Also, the cabinet of the LS50 is the most robust I've ever seen and is curved away from the driver, similar to the $20000+ Blade, the LS50 is the only speaker under $20000 has a diffraction-free cabinet that I'm aware of. They are also voiced brighter than other KEFs, some find them bright, I think they walk that line without being bright but they're definitely forward sounding.

I do think the LS50 sound much better with subs though, they won't do as well full range but if you don't listen that loud it shouldn't be a problem. Also, I prefer making a small cut around 2k to smooth out the highs but some people don't find that necessary. I've compared them side by side and in some cases blind to many good speakers the past year and nothing under 2k "outclasses" them. Most speakers in their price range sound very good, so you can't really go wrong.
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post #49 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 01:43 PM
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Without a subwoofer, the R3 might be the best speaker for you, it's true that they are a bit laid back but the great thing about KEF is since their on and off-axis response is so balanced, they can be EQ'd to any response you want. They certainly measure better than any speaker being discussed in this thread, check the R series whitepaper to see.
Buchardt S400 has better bass than KEF R3, and measures excellently, too:



Ascend Sierra-2EX also appears to have more bass than R3, based on reviews, and also has superb measurements.

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KEF's own measurements look amazing, but they might be overly smoothed; independent measurements I've seen differ from the official ones.

At any rate, these would make for a killer 3-way shootout, don't you think?

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post #50 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 02:04 PM
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Totem used Dynaudio drivers (Signature One/ Mani-2/Signature Center channel) or basically all the 5.5” woofers used Dynaudio drivers from what was similar to the Dynaudio Audience 40 speakers drivers. Totem uses drivers for their 6.5” speaker products from Audio Technology (same as Salk’s BeAT speakers) and Hi-Vi.

To my knowledge only Eggleston is still able to buy Dynaudio drivers as they haven’t stopped producing the speakers that use this drivers. Should they, Dynaudio will not provide drivers for a new speaker launch (from what I’ve heard).
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post #51 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by dan3952 View Post
Dynaudio Special Forty gets good reviews, but I don't think it's worth $3000. I believe that Totem uses Dynaudio drivers in their speakers (Totem is an assembler).

With my own money, I would look at Ascend Acoustics Sierra (various models to choose from), Revel M106, or Martin Logan 35 XT. I was listening to Revel tower speakers and not bookshelf speakers locally, but I found them to have a flat frequency response, and low distortion. Midrange was noticeably cleaner than in the Monitor Audio Silver (which I'm through with, for personal reasons, I find it too warm and smoothed over with my choice of amp). The ML has the air motion tweeter, which is known to best dome tweeters on more expensive speakers, but costs nowhere near what the RAAL does. Look at Madisound or Zaph Audio to find out what the drivers themselves cost.
Basing the value of the Special 40s based on listening to them personally, correct?

I heard the Revel Perfoma 3 F206 and was not impressed personally. I heard the Salk Song 3 and felt it was priced accordingly. Heard the Salk Exotica 3 and felt it was priced about $5k more then it should be.

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post #52 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post

KEF's own measurements look amazing, but they might be overly smoothed; independent measurements I've seen differ from the official ones.

At any rate, these would make for a killer 3-way shootout, don't you think?
That would be a shootout I'd love to see as well. Be careful when comparing different measurements in the bass, it's pretty hard to measure and many people have talked about the deficiencies even at the NRC anechoic chamber, so smaller companies like Burchardt and Ascend I'm sure aren't using anechoic chambers. The only real way to compare bass would be to do subwoofer style measurements to get the max output at a certain distortion level, I think 10% is the norm. Regardless of how much bass a speaker has, subwoofers are mandatory if you want the best possible bass in your room anyway, just due to setup restrictions of the mains.

The Sierra 2 EX are actually smoothed to 1/12 octave(You can see in the legend it says .08 octave), while the other 2 look more like 1/20, you can tell by the little ripples in the measurements that are absent in the Sierra 2. The S400 and the Sierra 2 EX do measure pretty well for sure but I don't think anyone would say they are at the level of the R3.

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post #53 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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If i buy Salk silks or Special 40s second hand what is the warranty situation?
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post #54 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista View Post
If i buy Salk silks or Special 40s second hand what is the warranty situation?
Dynaudio will warranty speakers for 8 years, and it’s transferable, but I’d suggest you ask the seller for a copy of their purchase receipt, just to prove should something happen. However that said, Dynaudio is very good about taking care of someone with their products. I had a speaker get damaged and it was pretty bad and took very good care of me.

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post #55 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:27 PM
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Here's some independent measurements of the R3:











I'd wager that Salk, Dynaudio, and Revel are no worse.

Speakers: Genelec M040 | Dynaudio X18
Sub: VTF-2 mk5
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post #56 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by l0nestar8 View Post

I'd wager that Salk, Dynaudio, and Revel are no worse.
Come on, that's some random person measuring them with REW, I have no idea if they're outdoor measurements or time-gated, but they are nowhere near a proper measurement in an anechoic chamber. Look at the NRC measurements of the Revel F206 and the KEF R11, both are very good overall but you can see even off-axis, the KEF is a constant slope even out to 75 degrees, where the F206 doesn't quite match in the tweeter range. Matching directivity at all off-axis angles is really what separates the men from the boys.
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post #57 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:42 PM
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I just got the Evoke 20. I upgraded from the Emit 10. Whether or not the Dynaudio Emit 10 is better than the Elac UB5 i am not sure, but the Evoke 20’s are a huge improvement over the emits... I mean huge in build quality and even bigger of a difference in sound quality.

I also had a pair of Emit 20’s and id say the difference is just as substantial (the Emit 10s are godly for their price point and their physical size).

My vote for your next set of speakers is for the Evoke 10’s or Evoke 20’s.

If it means anything, I too felt something very similar to how you’re feeling. I felt the same way about the special 40’s. The $3000 price point was just too much for me to swing for that speaker. If I say yes to the special 40 then I’d actually skip that speaker and go with the confidence 20’s. I’m a do it all or don’t do it at all type of guy, and the Evoke 10/20’s (the 20’s are pushing it, but I couldn’t resist a 7” woofer) are right at my limit of when I will just do it all and yolo it.
So instead I satisfied my upgrade bug, personally feel like I gained a huge boost in sound quality, refinement, and most importantly the improvements in quality of the listening experience.
Do I think that there are still huge gains to be had, with equally huge price tags attached to those gains? Yes, most definitely. But do I in any way feel like I am settling and essentially lying to myself because I am too poor to afford what I truly wanted? Not at all. This is what I truly wanted for this occasion and period of time in my life. Assuming I am still alive in a decade or two, that’s when I’ll be content with buying items with huge price tags; likewise I will be even more genuinely content with the improvements on multiple levels that will come with.
Thank you for letting me express this relating factor of my own personal self with your current situation. Whatever speakers you do end up purchasing and settling with, please PM me your result, as I will be curious as will I be forgetful, so please remind me 🙂 cheers.

-jj

Do it all or don't do it at all.
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post #58 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:47 PM
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Given your desire for a speaker that sounds great at moderate volumes, I'll add a vote that you consider the Salk BMR's. I got one of the last pairs Dennis Murphy sold through Philharmonic, and the were an insane steal at the price he was offering them. The Salk prices are more in line with reality, and given your budget, you could get an incredibly beautiful Salk custom cabinet. If looks have any relevance to you, definitely something to consider. Basically, if you can imagine a color and veneer, Salk can probably handle it.



But getting back to my original point, one of the things I love about the BMR's is how crystal clear and open they sound even at lower volumes. I share my house with a wife and 11 year old daughter who don't particularly love my taste in music. So if they're home, I'm listening at pretty moderate volume levels. And the BMR's still sound utterly fantastic, even when I'm trying to keep my listening levels confined to the room I'm in.
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post #59 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by yodog View Post
I just got the Evoke 20. I upgraded from the Emit 10. Whether or not the Dynaudio Emit 10 is better than the Elac UB5 i am not sure, but the Evoke 20’s are a huge improvement over the emits... I mean huge in build quality and even bigger of a difference in sound quality.

I also had a pair of Emit 20’s and id say the difference is just as substantial (the Emit 10s are godly for their price point and their physical size).

My vote for your next set of speakers is for the Evoke 10’s or Evoke 20’s.

If it means anything, I too felt something very similar to how you’re feeling. I felt the same way about the special 40’s. The $3000 price point was just too much for me to swing for that speaker. If I say yes to the special 40 then I’d actually skip that speaker and go with the confidence 20’s. I’m a do it all or don’t do it at all type of guy, and the Evoke 10/20’s (the 20’s are pushing it, but I couldn’t resist a 7” woofer) are right at my limit of when I will just do it all and yolo it.
So instead I satisfied my upgrade bug, personally feel like I gained a huge boost in sound quality, refinement, and most importantly the improvements in quality of the listening experience.
Do I think that there are still huge gains to be had, with equally huge price tags attached to those gains? Yes, most definitely. But do I in any way feel like I am settling and essentially lying to myself because I am too poor to afford what I truly wanted? Not at all. This is what I truly wanted for this occasion and period of time in my life. Assuming I am still alive in a decade or two, that’s when I’ll be content with buying items with huge price tags; likewise I will be even more genuinely content with the improvements on multiple levels that will come with.
Thank you for letting me express this relating factor of my own personal self with your current situation. Whatever speakers you do end up purchasing and settling with, please PM me your result, as I will be curious as will I be forgetful, so please remind me 🙂 cheers.

-jj

Interesting analysis...good points! What im wondering though is, The special is 3k, the confidence i believe is 12k!!! So that is kind of an insane gap between the two, no?
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post #60 of 223 Old 08-17-2019, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post
Come on, that's some random person measuring them with REW, I have no idea if they're outdoor measurements or time-gated, but they are nowhere near a proper measurement in an anechoic chamber. Look at the NRC measurements of the Revel F206 and the KEF R11, both are very good overall but you can see even off-axis, the KEF is a constant slope even out to 75 degrees, where the F206 doesn't quite match in the tweeter range. Matching directivity at all off-axis angles is really what separates the men from the boys.
All the graphs show a similar general, overall trend in response. The mids are laidback, the upper mids are forward, and the highs roll off. I'm just providing some more data, don't shoot the messenger. You don't need an anechoic chamber to properly measure speakers for the sake of online discussion. Besides, the independent horizontal off-axis measurements of the R3 above match the NRC R11's off-axis response almost perfectly. So I think the comparison is valid for casual conversation.

The Kef whitepaper R11 response (since the off-axis stuff are "power averages" and overly smoothed as a result) looks way better than the NRC R11 response (which are actual individual traces), which is why independent testing is important to us consumers.

Coaxes have their advantages, to be sure, and I'm a fan as well. But if off-axis uniformity in all directions was so important, everyone on the planet would own a cheap Kef and just apply some EQ to taste. I've owned three separate Kefs (Q100, Q150, LS50) and have returned each one, despite their off-axis "superiority." If the listening window isn't suited to one's tastes, nothing else matters.

I'm also guessing that many people would prefer the Revel F206 over the Kef R11 in a blind test, despite any off-axis "imperfections." I don't think the R11's would win in a landslide over a Revel in the same price range. I bet it would come down to personal preference, for both men and boys, alike.

Speakers: Genelec M040 | Dynaudio X18
Sub: VTF-2 mk5
Amps: HK 3490 | TSR-7810

Last edited by l0nestar8; 08-17-2019 at 04:17 PM.
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