Originally Posted by wthomas69
Can anyone list in order the different lines of Energy speakers before they were bought out, from best to worst. I know of the Veritas, connoisseur, refewrence connoisseur, e-xl lines. Also familiar with the take 5. Also what years the different lines were made. I have some 2.1e's from late 80s, a pair of exl28p's from 2005, a cc1 center, an exl center, 2 s10.3 subs, an AS90 sub. Thanks in advance for the help.
Very tough question as Energy made a LOT of speakers over the years. Especially entry level speakers and sub/sat systems. Also creating a definitive ranking from best to worst is going to be controversial. But I'll take a stab (note that I haven't heard all these, just summarizing what I think is a reasonably broad consensus, having been on this thread for over a decade).
- Best ever for no-holds-barred 2ch audiophile = original Veritas V1.8 / V2.8 (although the V2.8 needs a BIG room)
- Best ever for modern multichannel home theater with audiophile chops = Veritas i-series
- Most practical (but still awesome sounding) choice for modern multichannel home theater, especially if you care about contemporary aesthetics = RC series
- Best value for the bargain hunter with champagne taste on a beer budget = odd-number Connoisseur series
- Want premium sound + great looks in a tiny package and fairly cheap used? Watch out for the RC-Mini's
The Top Tier Flagship Models
The original Veritas speakers (V1.8 and V2.8) from the 90's
would probably be considered the best speakers Energy ever made, without much controversy. They are legendary. Some long-time audio reviewers consider them their reference 2ch speaker like this dude
. They are also huge, pretty close to full-range speakers (although you need real amps to drive them) and I don't think I've ever heard a criticism of them, other than these are strictly 2ch and there is no matching center or surround option.
The original Reference Connoisseur 22 from the 80's
discussed recently is more like a unicorn, I've never had the pleasure to hear those original Pro 22 and RC 22 generation speakers, I've read some who feel they are still the best sounding speaker (although, IMO, it seems unlikely that they are an objectively better speaker than the V1.8 or V2.8 which had the benefit of so much more engineering and science behind their design). But these old models had a serious flaw in that their tweeters go bad, IIRC because the ferrofluid dries out. When this happens the tweeter is toast and needs to be replaced or rebuilt, and that's only going to get more difficult as time rolls on.
The 2nd gen Veritas (V2.4, V2.3, V2.2 etc) from the 2000's
are probably considered sonically to be nearly as good (potentially better, depending who you ask) vs the originals. They are a more modern looking speaker that are designed to be more "living room friendly" than the V1.8/V2.8, and are Energy's first flagship with a full "home theater" lineup (matching towers, bookshelfs, center, surrounds, in-walls, etc.). There are many reviews online of these models if you google a bit.
Unfortunately, the first run of these had a couple of really embarrassing design flaws. In terms of build/aesthetics, the soft rubber caps would get really gross over time, and the wood veneer laminate side panels would warp and peel away from the cabinet eventually. But, more crucially, there was a fatal flaw with the woofer design that would nearly guarantee it would fail within a few years (google "Veritas frozen woofer" for some fun bedtime reading). To address these huge problems, Energy within 2-3 years issued a revised "i series" which was basically the same speaker with the problems fixed, and the bonus of a much nicer smooth one-piece grill design (vs the awkward "bump-out" look of the original grills).
IMO - For the typical dude who is looking to go after the "flagship" Energy product for a practical, real world home theater setup, the Veritas i-series is the best bet.
They are recent enough to have modern-decor-friendly aesthetics and (relative to other flagship models) available on the used market, are durable (unlike the non-i models), arguably sound as good as any speaker Energy ever made, and of huge practical benefit for a home theater setup they are easier to drive then the older models (higher sensitivity) and come in a variety of shapes and sized for different applications (tower, bookshelf, etc). The only real flaw is the center channel, for which they got lazy and used a poor horizontal layout with a "2-1/2 way crossover", with just a tweeter between two woofers and completely left out the midrange on the 3-way vertical models. It's somewhat of a mind-boggling design decision for a company that advocated the advantages of their "convergent source" mid+tweeter array, they could have plopped that vertical mid/tweeter on the center and fixed a ton of flaws of horizontal center channels. Oh well.
That said, for a serious 2ch enthusiast with a nice sized, dedicated room who wants the biggest, baddest speakers Energy ever made... you'd probably want to keep your eyes on the used market for a pair of V1.8 (or, if a large room, the V2.8). Although I would put money that in a blind test vs a pair of V2.2i monitors paired with a nice sub, you may be surprised by the results....
The Premium-but-not-Flagship Honorable Mentions
The Reference Connoisseur models of the late 2000's
were the last "true" premium Energy speakers. They aren't flagship models, so don't sound quite as good as the Veritas i-series, but they are still really excellent speakers with outstanding objective measurements. They also are arguably the best looking speakers Energy ever made in the stunning real wood Rosenut and Cherry veneers with the brushed aluminum baskets, IMHO they look much more sleek and modern and even "timeless" vs the 2nd gen Veritas which are right on the cusp of looking a bit "dated". (It says something that Klipsch kept the exact same aesthetics for their "fake Veritas" line they put out after buying Energy, and KLH has essentially replicated them again with their "reborn" new lineup).
IMO, the RC series is one of the very best used market values out there for someone who wants to build a really good looking, living room friendly home theater setup setup.
They are only about a decade old, so recent enough to be widely available on the used market but still have modern engineering and aesthetics, and as a "modern" HT speaker are designed to pair well with mid level gear. They are available in all shapes and sizes, including the very underrated RC-Mini models. They are much, much more common on the used market than the 2nd-gen Veritas but sound 80% as good (at least). And, because of the demise of Energy the brand, they are available (relatively) cheap used.
AND, as an added bonus, the RC-LCR center is a really good design with the diagonal mid-tweeter-mid array which allows it to avoid the typical flaws of horizontal centers. In fact, for a dedicated HT with the LCR speakers hidden behind a screen, I'd argue a trio of vertical RC-LCR would be hard to beat.
If you don't mind the space-age silver baffles, the "odd number Connoisseurs"
are by most accounts nearly as good as the RC series, which they directly preceded in the early 2000's. They are also widely available on the used market, very cheap relative to their performance, are easy to drive with good sensitivity, and come in all sorts of shapes and sized. A patient used market bargain hunter could assemble a really awesome sounding HT setup for less than $1,000 quite easily hunting these models. Note the original center (C-C1) is mediocre, whereas the updated C-C3 is the originator of the design for the RC-LCR and is far superior.
There are also a number of other very good 2nd tier (i.e. below the flagship) speaker lines from earlier generations... but IMO these aren't as practical to collect other than as collector curiosities or random bargain finds due to age, scarcity, etc. There's the "even number Connosseurs" of the mid/late 90's which preceded the odd-number C's, along with the AC-300 center/LCR/monitor and bipolar tower "Audissey" line from that era. These were basically the premium lineup below the 1st gen Veritas. Then, in the early 90's there was the mid-level e-Series and the strangely-rare-and-unknown semi-flagship 22.2 and 22.3 models (which seem to be souped-up e-Series models with really nice cabinets), but IIRC this generation shares the same tweeter with the 22's from the 80's and as such may eventually suffer tweeter failure.
The Entry Level Stuff
There were many entry-level lines over the decades. Many of them still sound quite good. A very loose chronology, won't talk about these since not worth the effort:
- Early 1990's = Pro series (entry level) / e-Series (mid level) / 22.2 and 22.3 (premium quasi-flagship)
- Mid/Late 1990's = e:XL series (entry level) / even-number Connoisseur (premium) / original Veritas (flagship)
- Early 2000's = updated XL series (entry level) / odd-number Connoisseur (premium) / 2nd gen Veritas non-i (flagship)
- Mid/Late 2000's = C series (entry level) / Reference Connoissuer (premium) / 2nd gen Veritas i-series (flagship)