Originally Posted by JoeyATX
Hi all. I am a new audio addict. I started off 2 months ago with a $1000 budget and after a few auditions, and a low price thrown to me on a pair of speakers, I ended up with a Marantz 6014 and a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 702s2's. I hadn't researched them much, and really sort of bought them on impulse with the price I was given. I got home and hooked them up and was instantly dissatisfied. I tried to like the set up over a week, and started researching the speakers. I had demoed speakers at Best Buy and heard the same speakers (most of what they have at Magnolia) on a bunch of different amps. The Arcams and the Mcintosh having the best sound, and the Marantz having the best sound out of the 4 lower end, price wise, models I heard. I decided to demo an Arcam AVR 390 (Best Buy let me take it home for a cpl weeks). I think the sound is better, but havent had enough time with it to decide if I can live with the combo (Arcam + 702s). Anyways, sorry being long winded and apologize if I sound like noob but I am. I am also OCD and a quick learner so I have learned a lot in the last few weeks. The dealer I got the Marantz and the 702s from also sells Arcam, which I did not know. They are willing to work with me exchanging out anything. So I could take back the Marantz, get and Arcam, and keep the 702s. (Ill return the demo Arcam back to Best Buy, no issues there). I am also considering returning the 702s and getting the Revel 708s. I can get all of this done for around about the same money, the shop here has great prices and really wants to get me what makes me happy. Am I crazy or are the 702s amazing sometimes, and just plain harsh at others? It may just be my untrained ears I really dont know. I want to be happy with I end up with, spending this kind of money. Any feedback or advice is recommended. My room sucks, I am going to work on that. I tired Audessy on the Marantz, I think I was able to make the adjustments better myself. I havent ran Dirac yet on the Arcam, but it sounds better than the Marantz right out of the box. Made some basic adjustments. THANKS!
Welcome to the dark side!
A couple of opinions/tips:
1. High priced amps make precious little difference, unless you have chosen both a hard-to-drive (low impedance AND low sensitivity) speaker *and* you like to listen at extremely loud levels (75-85db or higher)...such speakers are a tiny minority of what is out there these days.
2. The two biggest factors in actual perceivable sound quality are the SPEAKERS and your individual ROOM ACOUSTICS. EQ can help, but unless your room is an outrageously bad acoustic nightmare, good speakers shouldn't require a buttload of EQing but sound good with little or none.
3. The only thing that makes even less difference than the amp/receiver is electrical WIRING, i.e. speaker cables, interconnects, and power cables. Any dealer who tries to sucker you into buying the exotic overpriced crap (and "crap" it is, for all the good it does) is not to be trusted an inch further than you can throw them.
4. Other notorious snake oil traps are exotic DACs and power conditioners. Again, steer clear of anyone pushing these items.
5. There are a lot of charlatans in this hobby and industry, and at least half the time, PAYOLA (bought and/or shill reviewers) and carefully calculated PLACEBO EFFECT (e.g. assuming high prices always give you high quality) are its bread and butter. Caveat Emptor, and keep using DIRECT (trial and error) EXPERIENCE because YOU are the only "authority"---give a wide birth to any dealer who claims to be one himself. YOUR ears are the final judge and jury, nobody else's. Question everything and everyone.
6. Best Buy is a great place to get speakers you can listen to at home and easily return within 15 days if they don't float your boat. Once in a while they have good clearance sales, and they will pricematch Amazon pricing. Otherwise, it's a crappy listening environment and the salespeople (esp. in the Magnolia stores) are usually some combination of hopeless ignoramuses or sleazy liars. Get in, get out, and for the love of god do not let them swindle you into buying Monster cables or some other useless junk like that.
7. There is no substitute for an in-home audition. That's the only way you can REALLY know how speakers will sound in YOUR room, on YOUR gear, with YOUR preferred content and listening preferences. This is one of the prime reasons to research otherwise obscure internet-direct brands NOT carried at Best Buy or boutique audio shops: free in-home trial periods. Some will even offer free return shipping, otherwise just build the cost of return shipping into your overall budget and get a couple pairs of bookshelves to compare, ship back the losers, and then order the remaining speakers from the winner (if you're doing multi-channel).