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Budget (<£150) surround speaker mini reviews

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by ShinObiWAN, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. ShinObiWAN

    ShinObiWAN
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    After a trip to Richersounds over the weekend, I demoed all the interesting designs they had offer including, Eltax HT2BP, Gale 3060 and Mordaunt Short MS903. All these are bipolar designs which are less desirable than di-poles but better than conventional speakers.

    First off I listen the MS903 which happens to be the most expensive at £150 per pair. Initial impressions were good, nice and heavy and looks good. When they were used on movie sound tracks I felt a little dissappointed to be honest, my test DVD, Starwars: TPM and more specifically the podrace scenes have some great bass on the rear channels to test any speaker.
    When I used my RDM 1's as surround this had a lovely, if directional, weight to the whole rear sound stage. Sadely that was almost gone with the MS903.
    They are however great at placing you in the middle of the action, despite the lack of bass omph, the sound pans were very good indeed on the podrace. Fast, precise, realistic with a good sense of space to the sound thanks to the bipole configuration.

    Next up were the Gale 3060 £80, slightly smaller than MS903 and not as good looking depending on your tastes but build was good and sturdy.
    I was surprised considering these were nearly half the price of the MS903 but yet they still offered a very similar performance, still the lack of bass but almost identical as far as detail and dispersion were concerned. If you did a blind test between these two I suspect you wouldn't be able to tell the difference on 90% of the time.

    Finally we have the ultra cheap Eltax HT2BP £30, which must rate as the bargain of the surround world. The guy in Richersounds told me this was a very limited offer so get in quick.
    Performance was definitely worst than the above two, not drastically so but when they were connected I noticed a drop in the clarity of the sound.
    Also taking a closer look at the speakers revealed some short commings, the drive units looked hideously cheap, just pressed paper in a flimsy iron basket and the tweeter wasn't a dome at all but just a small paper cone which really did struggle on the high frequencies.
    I suspect that since these are an old design, they were geared toward Dolby ProLogic and DD5.1.
    Sadely despite the price I wouldn't like these in my system.

    After this I eventually went for the Gales since they offered everything the MS903 have but are nearly half the price. Eltax were OK but clearly not as good as the Gales or MS.
    I would have like to spend around £400 on some new surround but bought a new projector which crippled that plan. Happy enough for now with the Gales.
     
  2. Kazman

    Kazman
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    I have the MS903's, and have to agree, they do lack a little bass weight, but sound fantastic otherwise.

    I want to upgrade to the MS506 Dipoles used in the THX Select package, but they are very pricey at the moment.

    I only paid £80 for my MS903's :D which was at Richer Sounds Watford, they were having a clearout and these were the last boxed set they had, bargain :D
     
  3. rozzar

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    £80 is a bargain price for 903s. i paid more than that, and i work for a dealer ;) . And yes, they do lack some bass weight, but i had a full MS setup back then (performance 860/thx504 centre speaker/903s/304) so it made sense to keep the tonal balance the same. I would have got the 506s but they're realistically too big to wall mount in my room. They do look very tasty though :)
     
  4. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    The 506 is a massive step up from the 903 (and so it should be considering the price difference) but it does have the smallest WAF of anything we make. The 903 is a fairly small drivered unit so is going to lack a heavy bass weight, putting the 5.25in drivers in an inclosure means that you end up with something as big as the 506.... On balance many customers still go for the 902/302 as rears.
     
  5. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    Can you explain this statement please?
     
  6. rozzar

    rozzar
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    if i may attempt to answer on SO's behalf, bipolars sound less directional (a feature to desire in surround speakers) than conventional uni-directional speakers (that you would use for fronts, centre etc).

    however, as dipole speakers operate out of phase with each other, they are even less directional sounding than bipolar speakers (essentially just two uni-directional speakers bolted together at an angle).

    Dipoles start around £400. Bipoles, as can be seen above, start as cheap as chips!!!
     
  7. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    But I thought the 903's could be wired out-of-phase to replicate di-pole sound? The woofers & tweeters are also in different positions on each face of the speaker. Is this not a di-pole configuration?

    BTW, I like my 903's - never had a problem with the "bass" (isn't that the subwoofer's job?). I think they sound better on the side walls than on rear walls, though IMVHO. Were they designed with this in mind, Tons?

    (while we're here, I might as well mention that I DO have a problem with the lack of bass from my MS304 centre. Endless adjustment via the centre channel GEQ has yielded unsatifactory results, so I have decided to switch it for an MA Silver 10i. Why not the Tannoy RC or MS905, I hear you ask? Well, the tannoy is ENORMOUS, and I couldn't find any ribbed 905's 2nd hand!)

    Still have the crappiest sub in the world though. If only the Ruark Log-Rythm wasn't so big.......

    Cheers,
    DT
     
  8. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    I think you're right :)blush: ) but cannot remember the last time anyone tried. A dipole is symetrical and fires in phase (like the MS506) whilst a bipole is an asymetric out of phase design (903). Dipoles are also normally marked left and right and putting them the wrong way round does make a difference.

    We generally say put 'em on the side wall but they aren't too fussy and still give a good effect spread on a rear wall (and when used as the 6th and 7th speakers in a surround set). My rears have always been on the side walls.

    By "ribbed" I'm assuming you mean Avant type? These aren't too common used as they haven't been out that long, but they're £120 new- isn't that still quite a bit cheaper than an MA silver centre?
     
  9. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Yes, I mean the Avant. Only £120 new? I thought they were £180!
    I really like the look of the 10i though, it is a great looking speaker (still too large though).

    Got it 2nd hand for a song. Wouldn't have paid £200+ for it new.

    Thanks for clearing up the bi/di-pole thing there. I'd put mine on the side walls too, if the room wasn't L shaped :(

    While you're here (and a bit off-topic) Why is the Genie 5.1 system about £400 more than the premier plus system? What has changed internally?

    DT
     
  10. ShinObiWAN

    ShinObiWAN
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    Wiring a bipole speaker out of phase is not a good idea. You see dipoles have a specially designed crossover which creates out of phase output above around 300hz and then below this reverts back to bipole in phase configuration.

    Why?

    Simply because bass created by out of phase speakers is weak because of cancellation and disjointed. Much better to just use the over 300hz range out of phase for spaciousness and then keep them in phase for the bass. All dipoles are configured this way and another reason why they are expensive.
     
  11. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    Um- everthing :). Genie has bigger drivers that use the non resonant basket technology we developed for Performance. The all metal chassis is extremely non rigid and resonance free and carries its own wall/shelf mount built in in the rotating foot. The sub is 200w (as opposed to the 309's 150w) and downward firing. The usual MS notch filter is supplied along with a dedicated SPL meter to allow accurate setup without having to buy other bits and bobs. Genie is also (I hope you agree) an altogether more stylish affair than Premeire, which incidentally has an RRP of £500 so the gap is a bit closer.
     
  12. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Oh dear, better wire them back in-phase then! (even though I'm sure MS say you can wire the 903 out of phase for a better "dispersion"!) Didn't notice much difference anyway....

    Tons, I see a lot more effort has gone into the Genie that I suspected (originally thought it was a cynical "repackage" of the premier system, but I guess that's not the case).
     
  13. rozzar

    rozzar
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    interesting...may wire my 903s out of phase and see what happens
     

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