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Help Me Find The Sound I'm Looking For

484 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Coonstev
I've spent a lot of time reading the forum and have certainly learned a lot from it, I have a general idea of what people say various brands sound like, and pros and cons of them. With that said, I'm a 20 year old college student without a lot of money to spent on stereo gear. I like the idea of accurate speakers, and would like to try out some Ascend Acoustics, but then I look at my experience with different speakers and start to question what sound I like.

Today, I've been playing with two pairs I own but have not compared head to head until now, as they were in different parts of the country (kept one at school, one at home), some Infinity SM185s and PSB Image 1Bs. The other hardware is a Yamaha HTR-5250 receiver and the Parts Express 10" subwoofer.

Of course, these two speakers sound totally different. The Infinity speakers are very up front and in-your-face, play very loud (98db/watt), and in comparison the PSBs sound flat and muffled. I also own a small pair of Bostons (unknown model) that sound dull as well, and had the Infinity Primus 150s and Alpha 50 towers which also seemed muffled and boring to me. I have some Boston Pro 60s in my car which I like a lot. However the SM185s sound too bright at higher volumes and can be uncomfortable to listen to.

I am under the impression, since the PSBs and also the Primus speakers are generally regarded as pretty good, accurate speakers, that the SM185s I like are not at all. Part of me wants to have the most accurate speakers possible, I like that kind of honesty, but the other part likes the exciting energetic sound. Yes, sound is personal, buy what sounds good to you, I know that!

Does anyone know the Infinity SM series and how the sound compares to other speakers out there? I'd really like to try out some Klipsch Reference bookshelf’s (yah, people say Yamaha and Klipsch together is very bright, the receiver is also on the upgrade path, maybe an HSU sub too? ;) ) I could go to Best Buy and pick up some Klipsch Synergy speakers just to listen to and return so I can get an idea of the Klipsch sound, I know they are the budget consumer line, but how well do they convey the Klipsch sound? I guess I'm just looking for thoughts and ideas, or to start a discussion. Have you had similar experiences? Do you feel a little guilty when you like something that is not as accurate as it can be? I know I do sometimes :p

I suppose I'm thinking out loud, but I'd be interested in your thoughts.
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Go try out the Synergy III speakers. I've had the Synergy III B-2 bookshelves for a few weeks - they sounded very bright and shrill compared to Primus P160 which I auditioned before. A lot more bass coming out of that Klipsch speaker, too, even though I found it a bit muddy.

In the end I settled on Monitor Audio B2. They're a little on the bright side, but nowhere near the Klipsch levels and not shrill/tiring either. The bass is much clearer too, and still plentiful. Of course placement is important, too. Since the Klipsch was rear-ported, putting it too close to the back wall would amplify the bass.
950: My old set-up was SM112 fo LR, SM85 center, SM62 surrounds. My new set-up is Ascend 170SE LR and 340SE center with SM82 surrounds (for now).

First, let me thank-you for giving me a chance to vent.

The SM112 (3-way w/ 10-inch woofer, circa 1994) were what you would call "up-front" with focus directed at the LP. BUT, the midrange was horribly smeared. I've never found distortion measurements with this speaker, but they must have been ugly. I felt they lacked a minimum level of clarity for separation of instruments (and dialogue). I didn't know what transparency was until I heard the ascends. I'm not saying there aren't more transparent speakers out there, but the ascends have taught me that the speaker is supposed to disappear and be replaced by the sounds they're reproducing. During TV and movies, they allow me to forget they are there, which increases the sense that you are experiencing the movies instead of jsut watching the movie.

I just went here for your specs (SM185):

The SM185 speaker is similar in alignment to my SM82's, a 1-inch tweeter and 8-inch woofer. Granted, the actual drivers and crossover components may differ from those found in the SM185's, so take this with a grain of salt. I would say the SM82's clarity/detail is a few degrees better than the SM112. This is no-doubt because of the missing culprit, the SM112's midrange driver. Instead, the SM82 uses an 8-inch woofer for both midrange and bass responsibilities. It handles midrange clarity fairly well, but, as I've posted elsewhere, is anything but transparent. This is easily noticeable having paired them in surround duty with the ascends...and thus their days in my set-up are numbered. For bass, well obviously with a -3 dB at 75 Hz, they don't do much. The cut-off is very real. Also, I would say that male voices are definitley colored so if a freq chart can be found, we might see a hump at the lower end as compensation.

Yes, the ascends take a little more power, but not so much that the H/K AVR-235 has any trouble running them. I'm sure your Yammy would do just fine. The PSB's, on the other hand, really do want more power to open up.

Both the SM185's or Ascend 170SE's need a sub.

Good luck with your choice.
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