This is the best A/V forum on the internet, so I hope this thread assists myself and many others.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Brandon and I am a audio/videoholic.
Since before I can remember and up until present day, I have listened to many speakers, however no speaker I have run across has ever been perfect to my ears. Hmm, perfect
is a poor choice of words...how about this: I have not run across a speaker of whose flaws I could live with for a long, long time.
Ever since I delved into A/V a number of years ago I have been on a seemingly hopeless quest to find that one "perfect" speaker. I have come close in some instances, but in the end I always yearn for more. So if you don't mind, I would like to share a little of my experience with you and explain to you what I am looking for. Hopefully with your help and recommendations, I can come to a journeys end…well, at least for a while.
All right, concerning myself...I have listened to a lot of crap over the years, but on the other end of the spectrum I have listened to a few very nice speakers, most of which are out of my current price range. So, being a man who strives for (near) perfection in every purchase he makes, I don't know which products will fill that void. I have owned many speakers, the most recent being Canton Ergo 900's, B&W 604's, Rocket 750's and 550's and the Vandersteen 2CE Sigs. Not one pair of speakers on the list was perfect to my ears, but as mentioned, none are or ever will be. However, I want to finally find an affordable solution of whose flaws I can live with for a long, long time.
Here are the requirements that I would love to be met (most of them anyway), unrealistic as they may be…To die for imaging/wide soundstage/great dispersion
- This system needs to be used for Home Theater and perform like a champ in 2-channel and multi-channel music listening. I don’t want to just hear what is coming from before me; I want to be captivated by it! I want the speakers to disappear into the room. I want to hear music, not speakers trying to reproduce music, if that makes sense.
My wife does not understand this hobby as many of us men do, and with that said she wants me to limit my purchase to one system (7.1 at the most). This means finding a set of fronts that will excel at music above all else (home theater is much easier to reproduce than the intricate and delicate dynamics and nuances of musical instruments, in my opinion of course. If I can find a speaker to do the latter, home theater requirements will easily be met). It also means meeting the WAF (aesthetically).Dynamics, in both meanings of the word
- One: able to be run at near reference levels without distortion or tonality changes. Two: able to pick out each and every instrument and every sound and nuance that said instrument makes on a boundary-less soundstage presented before me. The latter definition is more important to me than the first.Accuracy
– I know what you are thinking, it’s a relative and subjective term with no true definition, but I am indeed a stickler for flat frequency responses. Perhaps it’s a mental/anal retentive thing; a way to just appease that part of my brain, but it’s necessary for me nonetheless. I want a speaker that measures flat all the way through. I don’t want to have to worry about treating my room in order to improve the speaker, but rather just treat my room to only treat the reflections. In my opinion, too much EQ is a bad thing, thus I am against all EQ except parametric. Still, wouldn’t it be amazing to only have to EQ (treat) the room due to its imperfections rather than any of your equipment’s imperfections? Perhaps I am grasping at straws here, but one can hope.Efficiency
– I don’t mind shelling out for good equipment in order to get the most out of my speakers, but there is so much voodoo and snake oil out there…it’s disheartening, not to mention I will have to save over time in order to be able to afford this equipment. Still - the more true power (the actual power when measured with all channels driven), the better. And, of course, low total harmonic distortion measured when under duress. Obviously that is a completely different topic for another time (amplification). However, in lieu of the above mentioned, an efficient speaker that can be run on modest power (until I purchase the power that the speakers deserve) would be wonderful. This is the one place the Vandersteens lack…well, that and the looks department to appease the WAF.Cost
- I am just an average Joe that makes an average salary at an average job with a not
so average passion for his hobbies, especially A/V. I also have a not
so average wife (yes, she’s that good), and I have to think about her through all of this as well. I don’t have the luxury of being able to purchase what I want when I want and then compare it in my own home without worrying about cost. And this is no knock on those that can do such, God bless them. Due to cost restraints and my personal experience with what I have listened to over the years I have spent in this hobby, Internet Direct offers the best value
to performance ratio in my opinion. And for the record, my arrival at this conclusion has nothing to do with the ID “fanboys” or the ID “haters,” or the fact that I get along with many of the ID supporters. It’s a simply judgment call that I have made based on my listening experiences. It is also not a knock on B&M speakers as they make some amazing products. And I am certainly not saying that all ID product are better than their rival B&M products in that same price range (I have heard garbage from both ID and B&M). But if one can eliminate most of the markup created by a local shop, the decision becomes a no brainer for me – look to ID first. This line of thinking is not static, however. If I can find a good deal on a used product or receive a nice discount on B&M equipment – awesome, I’m all over it.
With all of that being said, I do not have a set price range. I would like to keep things as low in cost as possible, but if I find a true contender that can win me over, I will try to save for it. However, let's not get too crazy here.
To conclude, I am looking for a speaker with the open and airiness of a Vandersteen, the dynamics of a Klipsch horn, the sound stage of beffleless speakers and a price that won’t break the bank or give my wife a reason to hate me. Add in a shake of accuracy and a dash of a well balanced treble extension, and that is my "perfect" speaker. Does such thing exist? Is something along these lines in the works?
So there you have it; my requirements, however unreachable they are.
In lieu of all this, I have no issues at all with purchasing the front speakers and adding the rest of the multi-channel system later.
So that brings me to the present and the decisions I have to make. Where do I go from here? Many of you have been doing this much longer than me, so can you offer any advice? And, of course, everyone’s ears and opinions are different, so I am specifically looking for opinions and some recommendations on what to listen to. I know better than to purchase based on someone else’s opinions, but I assure you they will be taken to heart and appreciated, though taken with a grain of salt.
Thank you all! Sorry for the very lengthy read. Feel free to PM me if you feel you may be flamed or challenged on your recommendation.
BrandonUpdate - 3-23-08
Having listened to many speakers, I'm going to chose a "perfect speaker" for my ears based on price categories. So, here is what my favorites are at each price point thus far
:My "perfect speaker" under $1000/pair:Vandersteen 1CMy "perfect speaker" under $3000/pair:Salk SongTowerMy cost no object "ultimate speaker:"Salk SoundScape
As you can see there are a lot
more price categories out there, which is why I will continue my journey until I've picked something for each category. No, I can't listen to everything, but that won't stop me from trying. Jump to Audition # 1
Monitor Audio RS6 and Vandersteen 1CJump to Audition # 2
Paradigm Studio 100 v.3 and Monitor Audio GS60Jump to Audition # 3
Vandersteen 2CE Sig II, Vienna Acoustics Schonberg, Sonus Faber Concerto Domus, Vandersteen Quatro and Vandersteen Model 5AJump to Audition # 4
Swan Diva 6.2, Acculine A3, Onix Rocket 850 Signature, Salk SongTower QWT, Definitive Technology BP10B and NHT Classic 2Jump to Audition # 5
Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1Jump to Audition # 6
Dynaudio Contour S1.4Jump to Audition # 7
SVS MTS Series, Onix Rocket 850 and Paradigm Studio 100 v.4Jump to Audition # 8
Monitor Audio PL300Jump to my final decision...for now.
Salk SongTower'sBonus Speaker Review
Chase Home Theater WAF-1'sMy journey's end - the final choice (including review)
Salk SongTower RT (ribbon tweeter) - the first pair ever built
Unfortunately I have not added all of the speakers I have auditioned to this thread. It is very time consumming, and it would mean trying to remember all of the qualities of every speaker I've listened to before creating this thread (about another two dozen speakers or so). However, if you are interested, please PM me and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability (memory).
Finally, I want this thread to be more than my
"journey." I want this thread to be used as a timeline of events for everyone and their search for their
"perfect" speaker. Please don't let this die, even if and when I find my speaker and am content with it. In that event, the journey must continue, but now it's your