What defines a speakers value?-question for zorba 922 and others - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
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What defines a speakers value?-question for zorba 922 and others

Hey Zorba and friends,

I understand that speakers are like luxury cars and you can pay for a great cabinet finish and design but in the end, if you are after sound quality, you can get it for a fraction of the price with no frill brands. Zorba, there was a thread where you mentioned that there isn't a huge gain between a $1,000 vs $2,000 tower speaker. Were you referring to a pair or an individual tower? I couldn't dig up the thread again to clarify.

At what price point, in everyone's opinion, do you gain the bulk in audio quality (85-90%) to where the gains in refinement dropoff in ratio to the increase in price for both towers and bookshelf speakers? From my research, it seems a solid entry-level pair of bookshelfs will be $500 and a pair of towers are $1,500? The next price bracket is about $750 and $2,000 respectively and then $1,000 and $3,000? How much are you really getting back in terms of sound quality at each step if you could quantify sound quality at each bracket in terms of a percentage (100% being the best quality audio reproduction available). I know this is a generalization as there are outliers and each brand will be different but if there is an average? It'd be great if there was a tool to see every product line for the top 10-20 brand be rated in this way. It would make it a lot easier to know on what speaker am I paying more for the finish refinement versus an increase in audio quality.

I notice ascend, chane and jtr seem to be highly recommended speakers seemingly more value-focused than brands like dynaudio, revel, focal and others. Are there other brands that would be recommended if sound quality/value is the main consideration? I know sound is subjective to each listener but is there a big difference in quality if I'm willing to spend $3k on 2 towers versus $1.5k on a set of bookshelfs (with same sound signature) paired with a hsu, rythmik, psa quality sub? If I knew that spending $1.5k on a pair of Ascend 340's with a solid sub will get me at the same place as spending $4k on a pair of Focal aria 926's w/ the same sub, I'd go with the cheaper setup. At least I will know that an "upgrade" from x to y, if both are comparable in audio quality, is only for the cabinet finish and design. I appreciate everyone's help in wrapping my head around understanding how much audio quality actually increases as you pay for better tech in higher priced speakers versus how much is just the WAF factor being appeased. Thank you!
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post #2 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 06:49 PM
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Ascend 340's are definitely not equivalent to focal arias. More expensive speakers aren't just better cabinets but better drivers and crossover design/components as well, and that makes the difference.

I had focal aria 905's and q acoustics 3020's at the same time. The Focals were more transparent, more air around instruments, and they sounded more accurate in comparison, meaning instruments sounded more lifelike.

I just went through the same experience comparing nht super one 2.1's to vintage ADS L710's. The ADS are significantly better. Not to say the nht's and q acoustics aren't good speakers, cause they are and they're a great value. Also compared those two with dali zensor 1's and klipsch r-51m's.

Sometimes you read on forums that a budget speaker gets you 90% of a more expensive speaker. In my experience it's a lot less than that.
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post #3 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post

Sometimes you read on forums that a budget speaker gets you 90% of a more expensive speaker. In my experience it's a lot less than that.
I tend to agree with this, people need to realize that for whatever reason, this forum is biased toward internet direct companies. I actually bought a pair of speakers from one of these companies and they were good speakers and a good value but since then I realized that at every price there are brand name speakers that meet or beat them.

A few value leaders currently, in my opinion, are:

LSIM 703 (when on sale)
Wharfedale Diamond 220/225
KEF Q150 (when less than $400)

Closer to the 1k price point I'd check out the Revel M16 or KEF LS50 before spending any more money. As long as you can properly integrate a couple subs with them, it's going to cost a lot of money for very little improvement.
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post #4 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 08:23 PM
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my question would be : if all this is true (and i'm not saying it's not).. who's gonna tell Dennis Murphy he's not really getting 90% of bmr performance from $150 towers,,,

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post #5 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
my question would be : if all this is true (and i'm not saying it's not).. who's gonna tell Dennis Murphy he's not really getting 90% of bmr performance from $150 towers,,,
Why does anyone need to tell him..lol
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post #6 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post
Sometimes you read on forums that a budget speaker gets you 90% of a more expensive speaker.
Those who say that probably drove the more expensive speakers with the same electronics they used for the cheaper speakers and heard no difference. Go figure.
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post #7 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post
I tend to agree with this, people need to realize that for whatever reason, this forum is biased toward internet direct companies. I actually bought a pair of speakers from one of these companies and they were good speakers and a good value but since then I realized that at every price there are brand name speakers that meet or beat them.

A few value leaders currently, in my opinion, are:

LSIM 703 (when on sale)
Wharfedale Diamond 220/225
KEF Q150 (when less than $400)

Closer to the 1k price point I'd check out the Revel M16 or KEF LS50 before spending any more money. As long as you can properly integrate a couple subs with them, it's going to cost a lot of money for very little improvement.
Thanks Aaron. I had my eye on the kef q150's and missed an opportunity that came up on craigslist recently. I've seen a lot of people mention the Klipsch rp600 with the bunch as well. I heard the ls50's are bright and I think I'd prefer a warmer sound. I'm coming from a pair of bic ht-75 towers that have horn tweeters and they seem quite harsh and shrill at times. It seems that for a pair of bookshelf speakers, $500-$1,000/pair with a sub gets you pretty good quality setup like you are saying. I wonder what kind of towers a $1,500 bookshelf/sub setup could rival?
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post #8 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 09:54 PM
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And just to clarify, I am Harjap Singh. I just got my old account reactivated so have switched to it now.
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post #9 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 10:39 PM
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Thanks Aaron. I had my eye on the kef q150's and missed an opportunity that came up on craigslist recently. I've seen a lot of people mention the Klipsch rp600 with the bunch as well. I heard the ls50's are bright and I think I'd prefer a warmer sound. I'm coming from a pair of bic ht-75 towers that have horn tweeters and they seem quite harsh and shrill at times. It seems that for a pair of bookshelf speakers, $500-$1,000/pair with a sub gets you pretty good quality setup like you are saying. I wonder what kind of towers a $1,500 bookshelf/sub setup could rival?
The Q150's will be on sale again soon I'm sure. If you like a warmer sound they'd be great, I'd take them with subs over any of the Q series towers.
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post #10 of 44 Old 09-17-2019, 11:20 PM
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The Q150's will be on sale again soon I'm sure. If you like a warmer sound they'd be great, I'd take them with subs over any of the Q series towers.
I am so, so close to getting my Q150s - the finish I ordered has been on back order for over a month, now... I am itching to get them! I'm still trying to figure out my subwoofer situation for that set up, too.

They seem to go on sale regularly, which begs the question - why not just drop the price permanently if they're just going to have them practically on perma-sale anyway.
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post #11 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 12:57 AM
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"value" is a very vague term and everyone has it different

I know a person who thinks that $500 pair of speakers and $150 amp are too expensive and he will stick to his built-in TV speakers (and he can easily afford them and even much more expensive stuff, before anyone asks)
So it is up to you to decide what has the "most value" and where it ends.

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post #12 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 01:07 AM
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Ascend 340's are definitely not equivalent to focal arias. More expensive speakers aren't just better cabinets but better drivers and crossover design/components as well, and that makes the difference.

I had focal aria 905's and q acoustics 3020's at the same time. The Focals were more transparent, more air around instruments, and they sounded more accurate in comparison, meaning instruments sounded more lifelike.

I just went through the same experience comparing nht super one 2.1's to vintage ADS L710's. The ADS are significantly better. Not to say the nht's and q acoustics aren't good speakers, cause they are and they're a great value. Also compared those two with dali zensor 1's and klipsch r-51m's.

Sometimes you read on forums that a budget speaker gets you 90% of a more expensive speaker. In my experience it's a lot less than that.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. To me the best bargain is the Dynaudio Emit 10 for $799. But hey one mans treasure is another mans trash, it’s all relevant.

I will say with the same electronics powering my speakers, the emits sound like 75% of the special fortys.

I also know that if I had higher quality, more precision and well designed pieces of electronics powering my speakers, the emits will hit a ceiling much sooner than the special fortys. If I had an extra $20,000 invested in two channel stereo I would bet my money the emits would sound less than 50% of the special fortys. But then again it’s $799 vs $2999 hence why I think it’s a great deal.
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post #13 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
my question would be : if all this is true (and i'm not saying it's not).. who's gonna tell Dennis Murphy he's not really getting 90% of bmr performance from $150 towers,,,
You would have to buy the BMR from Salk to compare
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post #14 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 01:27 AM
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I guess just to make this thread fun I’ll throw in an opposing view.

I own Ascend CMT340’s. Call me biased, whatever.

I personally think they are 80-90% of everything $1500 and under, minus bass. When you add properly integrated subwoofers into the equation, I stand by that statement 100%.

I had a listening session at a dealer a while ago looking for prospective upgrades. And hearing $4000, $6000, and $10000 systems, I was not blown away.

You’d think that it would be easy to best some $500 speakers on a little Onkyo AVR with no room treatment and a cube shaped room. I was shocked to find out the answer to that.

As an example, hearing $4000 Sound Faber towers on a $3000 Parasound Integrated and $2000 DAC and however many snake oil cables they could fit in between my ears and the source, I was utterly disappointed. Perhaps they weren’t setup properly (I know for a fact my Ascends are not), or perhaps it was a bad combination of gear (not a huge believer in this but it gives the Sonus Fabers an escape route, lol), but everything was a downgrade IMO. I can elaborate but it makes no difference to my point.

That’s not to say everything that isn’t ID or Ascend is a downgrade, but it’s to say that price rarely is a good determination of sound quality or performance. The Sonus Fabers sure look nice though! Something the Ascends cannot say.

Anyways to conclude, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may think that something like Revel M126Be’s at $4000/pr are a great value, others may not. Your ears will determine for you.

Pay for what *you* see value in. That is what you should take to heart.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #15 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 03:38 AM
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I guess just to make this thread fun I’ll throw in an opposing view.

I own Ascend CMT340’s. Call me biased, whatever.

I personally think they are 80-90% of everything $1500 and under, minus bass. When you add properly integrated subwoofers into the equation, I stand by that statement 100%.

I had a listening session at a dealer a while ago looking for prospective upgrades. And hearing $4000, $6000, and $10000 systems, I was not blown away.

You’d think that it would be easy to best some $500 speakers on a little Onkyo AVR with no room treatment and a cube shaped room. I was shocked to find out the answer to that.

As an example, hearing $4000 Sound Faber towers on a $3000 Parasound Integrated and $2000 DAC and however many snake oil cables they could fit in between my ears and the source, I was utterly disappointed. Perhaps they weren’t setup properly (I know for a fact my Ascends are not), or perhaps it was a bad combination of gear (not a huge believer in this but it gives the Sonus Fabers an escape route, lol), but everything was a downgrade IMO. I can elaborate but it makes no difference to my point.

That’s not to say everything that isn’t ID or Ascend is a downgrade, but it’s to say that price rarely is a good determination of sound quality or performance. The Sonus Fabers sure look nice though! Something the Ascends cannot say.

Anyways to conclude, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may think that something like Revel M126Be’s at $4000/pr are a great value, others may not. Your ears will determine for you.

Pay for what *you* see value in. That is what you should take to heart.
The Ascend 340's for sure strike a great balance of cost, performance, and sound quality. With its larger cabinet and dual 6.5" woofers, it takes *a lot* of speaker to offer any significant upgrade. Coupled with a pair of good subs, I bet it would hold its own against plenty of overpriced audiophile silliness...such as $20,000 worth of audio jewelry electronics and snake oil cables as you were saying. Its funny how people are so easily fooled into believing expensive = magic. Just look at B&W's expensive speakers....I'd bet on your ascends and a good pair of subs driven by a decent AVR all day over those and any price "audiophile" electronics and cables.

In fact, I need to downgrade my center channel to one 8" high or lower, and I literally can't find one any *better* than the Ascend 340 in terms of capability, sensitivity etc for under $1k.
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And just to clarify, I am Harjap Singh. I just got my old account reactivated so have switched to it now.
Can you send me a PM on how you did this.
I'm formally "ddog" and have been on these forums since 2001. I'm having no luck getting my username back.

Thanks

Sorry for the thread detail..

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post #17 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 07:42 AM
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I personally think they are 80-90% of everything $1500 and under, minus bass. When you add properly integrated subwoofers into the equation, I stand by that statement 100%.

That’s not to say everything that isn’t ID or Ascend is a downgrade, but it’s to say that price rarely is a good determination of sound quality or performance.
Do you think they're that close to the Sierra 1's, for example? I think price is a good determination of sound quality, particularly with the large companies. I'm sure they're built with an exact budget to fit an exact msrp. If they could charge more they would. I'm sure there are small companies with overpriced products that don't necessarily sound better than many cheaper speakers though.

Andrew Jones talked about how handcuffed he was while designing the the budget pioneer speakers. Pioneer had an exact budget he couldn't exceed and he had to make lots of compromises. Things he wanted to do to make them sound better but he couldn't. Hence the elac b5/b6 sounded better due to the higher budget he was allowed. Same with the uni-fi's.

Look at every line of Polks. The T series are garbage. The rti series are pretty good but bright and not particularly accurate sounding. The lsim's are a big step up.

It's the same with receivers imo. I just don't get how some people believe all receivers sound the same. As if all the different components and power supply and design have no effect on sound.
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post #18 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 08:38 AM
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We must also admit that AJ designed the TAD reference monitors widely considered one of the best sounding speakers of our generation cost not withstanding..so..I can see why he found it difficult to design a subjectivity speaking great sounding inexpensive series of speakers like the Elac.

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post #19 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Harjap Singh View Post
I understand that speakers are like luxury cars and you can pay for a great cabinet finish and design but in the end, if you are after sound quality, you can get it for a fraction of the price with no frill brands. Zorba, there was a thread where you mentioned that there isn't a huge gain between a $1,000 vs $2,000 tower speaker. Were you referring to a pair or an individual tower?
I was probably talking per pair. But I think I was using a much bigger price differential than $1K vs $2K.

Look, it all comes down to a couple of PERSONALLY SPECIFIC criteria, and just how HONEST/REALISTIC you are in assessing YOUR actual needs:

1. How much CRITICAL MUSIC LISTENING do you do? More than 30%, then yes it might be worth it to pay more. If you mainly listen to music while doing something else, like eating, cooking, tidying up, exercising, working, reading, fiddling with your smartphone, etc.---you are unlikely to notice or care. If you listen and ONLY listen instead of distracting yourself with some other activity, it's a whole different ballgame.

2. How much HT/TV/Gaming usage do you do? VISUAL input dominates and overrides AUDITORY input during those activities, so you are far less likely to hear/notice the subtle improvements of higher quality speakers unless you are deliberately listening FOR those subtleties...in other words, if you are a frequent/longtime AVS poster.

3. How LOUD do you listen? Typically, people sit about 10-12 feet away and listen in the 65-75db range. If you sit further away and regularly listen at 80db and up, then you'll just need higher sensitivity speakers and/or a more robust power source. (Neither of those two things necessarily need to cost an arm and a leg, btw.)

4. How important are AESTHETICS and perceived SOCIAL STATUS to you? If you want speakers that look like fine furniture and/or have impressive/expensive brand name logos on them to impress visitors in your home, then expect to pay more.

5. How much are you willing to pay for an EGO MASSAGE? Just about all luxury products rely on #4 and on making the buyer feel "special" whether in front of others or in their own minds and identity or self-image. In this case: "Oh I'm SUCH a sophisticated audiophile with SUCH refined tastes and highly discriminating standards, that's why I've just blown this huge chunk of change on all this stuff."

This mental button is EXACTLY what 90% of advertising, sales and marketing strategies are designed to cultivate and exploit. It's what our entire (capitalist) culture is built around, really. "You ARE somebody! You ARE special and important! You CAN have it all, and you DESERVE to have it all!"

I've said it elsewhere but I'll say it again: most people if they are 100% honest with themselves and if they don't suffer from problems #4 and #5 , would be perfectly happy with a well-chosen $200-300 pair of bookshelf speakers and a well-chosen $300-500 subwoofer.
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~ 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 #20 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 09:16 AM
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Do you think they're that close to the Sierra 1's, for example? I think price is a good determination of sound quality, particularly with the large companies. I'm sure they're built with an exact budget to fit an exact msrp. If they could charge more they would. I'm sure there are small companies with overpriced products that don't necessarily sound better than many cheaper speakers though.



Andrew Jones talked about how handcuffed he was while designing the the budget pioneer speakers. Pioneer had an exact budget he couldn't exceed and he had to make lots of compromises. Things he wanted to do to make them sound better but he couldn't. Hence the elac b5/b6 sounded better due to the higher budget he was allowed. Same with the uni-fi's.



Look at every line of Polks. The T series are garbage. The rti series are pretty good but bright and not particularly accurate sounding. The lsim's are a big step up.



It's the same with receivers imo. I just don't get how some people believe all receivers sound the same. As if all the different components and power supply and design have no effect on sound.

Yeah, I do actually. I talked to Dave about the comparison between the $300 CBM170 and the $700 Sierra1. My conclusion was that for the extra detail and improvement in bass, it’s up to the listener to decide whether the $400 upgrade is worth it.

I would say that the CBM170’s are 80-90% of the Sierra1’s, honestly. And with a $400 RSL Speedwoofer added to the CBM170’s you and me both know which setup is going to win

I think the Polk example and the receiver example don’t really follow this trend for other reasons, but if you take a look at just external amplifiers, I’d say that yeah, amplifiers definitely follow this trend.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #21 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 09:22 AM
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Like other manufactured products, not all more expensive speakers outperform all less expensive speakers. But speakers generally conform to the price-performance curve where each percentage point of performance improvement becomes increasingly costly as you go up the curve. Everyone needs to find their own sweet spot or value point on the curve that suits what level of performance they're willing to pay for.

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post #22 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 10:23 AM
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Location is also a factor - a $300 speaker in the US is not the same as a $300 speaker in, say, Canada. I spent ~$1200 on my current HT speakers (including the sub), and they're "just" RTiA Series Polks/Elac S10EQ. They were all on sale (anywhere from 40-60% off), too, so the full retail is significantly higher. For the full retail of those speakers in Canada, you can get objectively better speakers in the US - you could even get better speakers for the sale price I paid for the Polks in the US, too.

One can poo-poo the RTiA series of Polks all they want, but to me they're incredible value for the money - They sound great to my ears (though, I went from AJ Pioneers to the RTiAs, which I know isn't saying much), and it is incredibly rare/unheard of to see real wood veneer in an (essentially) entry level speaker line. The build quality on them alone is excellent value for the money, IMO.
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post #23 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post
I tend to agree with this, people need to realize that for whatever reason, this forum is biased toward internet direct companies. I actually bought a pair of speakers from one of these companies and they were good speakers and a good value but since then I realized that at every price there are brand name speakers that meet or beat them.

A few value leaders currently, in my opinion, are:

LSIM 703 (when on sale)
Wharfedale Diamond 220/225
KEF Q150 (when less than $400)

Closer to the 1k price point I'd check out the Revel M16 or KEF LS50 before spending any more money. As long as you can properly integrate a couple subs with them, it's going to cost a lot of money for very little improvement.
I wouldn't call a desire to maximize value a 'bias' per se - there are ID companies making products that perform very well and are very competitive with conventional brands, so why not pay less for the same performance if you can? Regarding your specific Revel/KEF examples I have 2 pairs of Revels that I purchased new (not used/open-box/blem... new) from an authorized dealer for way, way less than MSRP. I doubt that dealer is taking a loss so what does it say about the margins? Are the M16s actually $500/pr speakers wearing a $900/pr brand name? I fully understand that in the Revel example a premium may be built in for the science and years of research behind the brand in general but again, if one can get similar performance - since it's the performance that ultimately matters - for less then why shouldn't they?

I'm in no way begrudging dealers or companies here for making money or implying that brands should have smaller margins "just because." The bottom line is that if the consumer is fully satisfied with their purchase and the value it represents and sellers are getting the margins they desire then more power to all involved. However, how much of the price of a given product (speakers or otherwise) is devoted to profit/paying for brand cachet and why is it bad that many buyers look to maximize their product-to-currency spent ratio?

Perhaps I missed the mark on your comment and we're more in agreement than I'm realizing.

Last edited by KSpan; 09-18-2019 at 11:30 AM.
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post #24 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 12:19 PM
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We can speak in hypotheticals, but life is not itself hypothetical.

How much money do you have to spend?

How much space to you have to fill?

And specifically what are you looking for?

My Diamond 9.6 sound very good for $1000/pr and even better when you consider that I paid $450/pr for them. But I have heard $5000/pr speakers, and my Diamond, good as they are, don't compare. The $5000/pr speakers has stunning presence and clarity. But, because those speakers sounded better doesn't mean my speakers sound bad.

Room and Budget can not be divorced from the decision. It doesn't matter how good $5000 speakers sound if you only have $500 to spend. Now, for about $500/pr you can find some very good sounding speakers.

Internet Direct speakers can be high value, but they can only take you just so far. I would pit a $1000 ID-Speaker against a typical $1000 consumer speakers, and expect the ID to win. But you won't find many Internet Direct in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. So, by their very nature they are classed in the common consumer range. But among common consumer speakers, they are high value.

There are REVEL speakers in the $5,000/pr, $10,000/pr, and $15,000/pr range, each sounding generally better, but it doesn't matter how life-like the $15,000/pr speakers sound ...if... you don't have $15,000 to spend.

Then there is the question of - What is it you want? A $1,000/pr Bookshelf speaker will likely have better Mid/High than a $1,000 Floorstanding speaker ...but... the bookshelf will not have the same bass as a floorstanding. If you look at any line of speakers - Monitor Audio Bronze/Silver, Wharfedale Diamond 11, B&W 600/700/800 - floorstanding always cost more than the bookshelf models. So, the underlying point is that, a $1,000/pr Bookshelf is not the same as a $1,000/pr Floorstanding speaker. For general sound quality, the Bookshelf is likely better.

What I'm getting at is that there is an inescapable element of personal priorities and personal taste involved. What do you want? If you want Floorstanding for a fixed budget, then you have made compromises on one area for advantages in another. If you are obsessed with bass that drives you toward speakers that would be rejected by someone who values Mid/High clarity and presences.

For myself, though given that I am broke so mostly in my dreams. I draw a line for speakers at about $10,000 per pair and trust my stomach to tell me when I have gone too far. My stomach is fine with $5,000/pr speaker and even $8,000/pr speaker but it tightens up and rejects the thought of $10,000/pr speakers. I just can't imagine, not matter how good they are, what $10,000 speaker could bring to the table that wouldn't be satisfied with $7500/pr speakers.

This equally applies to other equipment. I have no problem paying (in theory) $4500 for the Luxman L-505xII amp, but I absolutely CRINGE at the thought of paying $4900 for the matching CD Player (CD/SACD). I ask myself - What could that CD Player possibly bring to the table that a good $1000 or $1500 CD Player does not bring?

https://www.musicdirect.com/integrat...ated-Amplifier

https://www.musicdirect.com/disc-pla...-SACDCD-Player

So, the point is, theory can not be divorced from reality. It doesn't matter what an expensive amp or speaker or source play brings if it is well out of your price range.

Further, even if you are drowning in money, it make little sense to try and put the FOCAL Grande Utopia in a typical living room. These speaker are giant beasts -

https://www.focal.com/us/high-fideli...-utopia-em-evo

- with 16" Bass Driver and standing 80 inches tall.

Up to a point limited by bounds of reason, yes, more expensive speakers well chosen can sound noticeably better, and many of the more expensive models are breath-takingly stunning ...but... OMG they are expensive. And there are other practical aspects, if you are going to buy $100,000/pr or $200,000/pr speakers you really need a Million Dollar Room to put them in.

You have to take a SYSTEM Approach where everything relative to the decision and the performance is moderated by other considerations. No point in putting a $100 Amp on $10,000 speakers. No point in putting Grande Utopia in a 10ft x 10ft bedroom.

How good a $10,000 speaker sounds only matters if you have $10,000 to spend.

But then ...that's just my opinion.

Steve/bluewizard
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post #25 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by KSpan View Post
I wouldn't call a desire to maximize value a 'bias' per se - there are ID companies making products that perform very well and are very competitive with conventional brands, so why not pay less for the same performance if you can? Regarding your specific Revel/KEF examples I have 2 pairs of Revels that I purchased new (not used/open-box/blem... new) from an authorized dealer for way, way less than MSRP. I doubt that dealer is taking a loss so what does it say about the margins? Are the M16s actually $500/pr speakers wearing a $900/pr brand name? I fully understand that in the Revel example a premium may be built in for the science and years of research behind the brand in general but again, if one can get similar performance - since it's the performance that ultimately matters - for less then why shouldn't they?

I'm in no way begrudging dealers or companies here for making money or implying that brands should have smaller margins "just because." The bottom line is that if the consumer is fully satisfied with their purchase and the value it represents and sellers are getting the margins they desire then more power to all involved. However, how much of the price of a given product (speakers or otherwise) is devoted to profit/paying for brand cachet and why is it bad that many buyers look to maximize their product-to-currency spent ratio?

Perhaps I missed the mark on your comment and we're more in agreement than I'm realizing.
I do actually agree with most of what you're saying, Revel is probably not the best example because the cheapest bookshelf is $900 a pair, even though they still compete very well at 900 and well beyond that price, if you can get them for $500 then they present an even better value. I think both models have their benefits for consumers, the ID companies don't have the high margins of the bigger brands for sure but the advantage of the big brands are the economies of scale and trickle down technology from their more expensive lines. I'm just not aware of any ID speaker that can't be matched at similar prices with a big name brand. I used to believe that to be true in the budget range but the Diamond 220's and Def Tech SM45 changed my opinion on that.
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post #26 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan Statz View Post

One can poo-poo the RTiA series of Polks all they want, but to me they're incredible value for the money - They sound great to my ears (though, I went from AJ Pioneers to the RTiAs, which I know isn't saying much), and it is incredibly rare/unheard of to see real wood veneer in an (essentially) entry level speaker line. The build quality on them alone is excellent value for the money, IMO.
Someone mentioned how much the TSi series suck so when I was at my sister in laws the last time I decided to see what speakers she was running as I'd never bothered before.

She had a HSU VTF1 subwoofer, (very under rated sub IMHO), and those "godawful according to AVS" TSi 300s and TSi CS10 center.

Sure enough, they sounded awful and the sub was hardly bringing anything to the party.

Thing of it is, my brother had run the Denon's Auddysey EQ and left the settings alone which were 40hz crossovers to the sub, all speakers set to "large" with Dynamic EQ on.

I changed the crossovers to 80hs, set the speakers to small and turned off Dynamic EQ.

They were dramatically changed; good clarity, good punch, excellent sub effect.

Didn't do any "critical" music listening but music sounded just fine (in the "bright" room), and movies were very very good!

So don't take every AVS "truth" to be a "truth."

As for diminishing returns, I can't find the link, but Floyd Toole opined that diminish returns for bookshelves were something in the $1500/pair area and $3000/pair area for towers.

I'm perfectly happy with the $1150 towers in my secondary room that I paid 9 years ago, and while plain looking they have a very nice real wood veneer, (Usher V602s...nobody else on AVS has mentioned owning them). 15" sealed servo sub doesn't hurt but they sound very good to my ear in 2.0 for music.

And I'm perfectly happy in my secondary room with my $800/pair booshelves that I paid $400/pair for and the PAIR of 8"subs I paid $200 for, (mostly music). Albeit the subs are EQ'd with a MiniDSP using REW/Umik.

But would I like some 3 way Salk Song3A Towers with RAAL for $4500/pair?

Yeah, I think so!

But only if someone stole my Ushers as once I'm happy I don't get "upgrade itch."

Geoff A. J., California
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post #27 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
Someone mentioned how much the TSi series suck so when I was at my sister in laws the last time I decided to see what speakers she was running as I'd never bothered before.

She had a HSU VTF1 subwoofer, (very under rated sub IMHO), and those "godawful according to AVS" TSi 300s and TSi CS10 center.

Sure enough, they sounded awful and the sub was hardly bringing anything to the party.

Thing of it is, my brother had run the Denon's Auddysey EQ and left the settings alone which were 40hz crossovers to the sub, all speakers set to "large" with Dynamic EQ on.

I changed the crossovers to 80hs, set the speakers to small and turned off Dynamic EQ.

They were dramatically changed; good clarity, good punch, excellent sub effect.

Didn't do any "critical" music listening but music sounded just fine (in the "bright" room), and movies were very very good!

So don't take every AVS "truth" to be a "truth."

As for diminishing returns, I can't find the link, but Floyd Toole opined that diminish returns for bookshelves were something in the $1500/pair area and $3000/pair area for towers.

I'm perfectly happy with the $1150 towers in my secondary room that I paid 9 years ago, and while plain looking they have a very nice real wood veneer, (Usher V602s...nobody else on AVS has mentioned owning them). 15" sealed servo sub doesn't hurt but they sound very good to my ear in 2.0 for music.

And I'm perfectly happy in my secondary room with my $800/pair booshelves that I paid $400/pair for and the PAIR of 8"subs I paid $200 for, (mostly music). Albeit the subs are EQ'd with a MiniDSP using REW/Umik.

But would I like some 3 way Salk Song3A Towers with RAAL for $4500/pair?

Yeah, I think so!

But only if someone stole my Ushers as once I'm happy I don't get "upgrade itch."
I would kill for some Salks...

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post #28 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
I guess just to make this thread fun I’ll throw in an opposing view.

I own Ascend CMT340’s. Call me biased, whatever.

I personally think they are 80-90% of everything $1500 and under, minus bass. When you add properly integrated subwoofers into the equation, I stand by that statement 100%.

I had a listening session at a dealer a while ago looking for prospective upgrades. And hearing $4000, $6000, and $10000 systems, I was not blown away.

You’d think that it would be easy to best some $500 speakers on a little Onkyo AVR with no room treatment and a cube shaped room. I was shocked to find out the answer to that.

As an example, hearing $4000 Sound Faber towers on a $3000 Parasound Integrated and $2000 DAC and however many snake oil cables they could fit in between my ears and the source, I was utterly disappointed. Perhaps they weren’t setup properly (I know for a fact my Ascends are not), or perhaps it was a bad combination of gear (not a huge believer in this but it gives the Sonus Fabers an escape route, lol), but everything was a downgrade IMO. I can elaborate but it makes no difference to my point.

That’s not to say everything that isn’t ID or Ascend is a downgrade, but it’s to say that price rarely is a good determination of sound quality or performance. The Sonus Fabers sure look nice though! Something the Ascends cannot say.

Anyways to conclude, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may think that something like Revel M126Be’s at $4000/pr are a great value, others may not. Your ears will determine for you.

Pay for what *you* see value in. That is what you should take to heart.
i'm mostly with you here..my ascends are sure hard to beat for clarity and tonal accuracy .. i can't imagine anything under $1000 "blowing them away".. now sound signature preference is a different thing , but analytically they seem to compete very well...

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 #29 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
I was probably talking per pair. But I think I was using a much bigger price differential than $1K vs $2K.

Look, it all comes down to a couple of PERSONALLY SPECIFIC criteria, and just how HONEST/REALISTIC you are in assessing YOUR actual needs:

1. How much CRITICAL MUSIC LISTENING do you do? More than 30%, then yes it might be worth it to pay more. If you mainly listen to music while doing something else, like eating, cooking, tidying up, exercising, working, reading, fiddling with your smartphone, etc.---you are unlikely to notice or care. If you listen and ONLY listen instead of distracting yourself with some other activity, it's a whole different ballgame.

2. How much HT/TV/Gaming usage do you do? VISUAL input dominates and overrides AUDITORY input during those activities, so you are far less likely to hear/notice the subtle improvements of higher quality speakers unless you are deliberately listening FOR those subtleties...in other words, if you are a frequent/longtime AVS poster.

3. How LOUD do you listen? Typically, people sit about 10-12 feet away and listen in the 65-75db range. If you sit further away and regularly listen at 80db and up, then you'll just need higher sensitivity speakers and/or a more robust power source. (Neither of those two things necessarily need to cost an arm and a leg, btw.)

4. How important are AESTHETICS and perceived SOCIAL STATUS to you? If you want speakers that look like fine furniture and/or have impressive/expensive brand name logos on them to impress visitors in your home, then expect to pay more.

5. How much are you willing to pay for an EGO MASSAGE? Just about all luxury products rely on #4 and on making the buyer feel "special" whether in front of others or in their own minds and identity or self-image. In this case: "Oh I'm SUCH a sophisticated audiophile with SUCH refined tastes and highly discriminating standards, that's why I've just blown this huge chunk of change on all this stuff."

This mental button is EXACTLY what 90% of advertising, sales and marketing strategies are designed to cultivate and exploit. It's what our entire (capitalist) culture is built around, really. "You ARE somebody! You ARE special and important! You CAN have it all, and you DESERVE to have it all!"

I've said it elsewhere but I'll say it again: most people if they are 100% honest with themselves and if they don't suffer from problems #4 and #5 , would be perfectly happy with a well-chosen $200-300 pair of bookshelf speakers and a well-chosen $300-500 subwoofer.
You know, you could have stopped at 1 through 3 and you would have offered this fellow some pretty good advice. However, for some odd reason that I just can't fathom, you feel the need to make these unsolicited, derogatory editorials. They're completely unnecessary and don't enhance your position in any way.

Why are you so offended by... and insulting to... people who have the interest and the means to do something more with their audio/video systems?

Craig

Lombardi said it:
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

My System

Last edited by craig john; 09-18-2019 at 04:55 PM.
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post #30 of 44 Old 09-18-2019, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by craig john View Post
You know, you could have stopped at 1 through 3 and you would have offered this fellow some pretty good advice. However, for some odd reason that I just can't fathom, you feel the need to make these unsolicited, derogatory editorials. They're completely unnecessary and don't enhance your position in any way.

Why are you so offended by... and insulting to... people who have the interest and the means to do something more with their audio/video systems?

Craig
I mean, I get the argument that function over form is considered more important, but I don't see anything wrong with wanting nice-looking speakers that also perform well. I don't see it as vanity or ego massaging thing at all - some just have particular design aesthetics that they like. There are a whole lot of speaker brands out there that need to step up their design game, IMO, and offer some nicer finishes at lower price points because black ash doesn't necessarily fit in everyone's decor.

But that's just me *shrugs*

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