Decision Time - I think I have arrived ...

D.D.D.

Active Member
The C300 I think have decent drivers, good crossover and absolutely superb cabinets and stands.

I wonder actually whether there would be a way to keep the cabinets and stands and go for a big upgrade with some really high end drivers and upgraded crossover - possibly even make them active - I do have a spare DDRC24?

Would that work? I can't particularly see why not.
Everything is possible, but real cost might be surprising for that kind of project.
In fact, what you are looking for is to re-develop new speaker based on the drivers and cabinets you have. It is exactly same job what will be done with new speaker development.

Here are 2 way you have:

- study and jump in deep DIY speaker building yourself , it will be just your time to spend on your hobby, result is unpredictive as in time too in final sound

- send speakers to someone engineer, who can do this job paid. Quite expensive job, which consists of the following tasks:
0.0 completely disassemble speakers
0.1 measure TS parameters of drivers
0.2 check right port alignment and cabinet volume for woofer
0.3 mount drivers back to cabinet with "wires out"
0.4 measure electrical and acoustical parameters - impedance and speaker response
1.0 prepare files for crossover simulation software
1.1 create some crossover model
1.2 solder crossover prototype
1.3 measure impedance and acoustical response
1.4 if response within desired curves, go to listening tests, else to 1.1
1.5 listening with various music, amplifiers in a properly treated room
1.6 try different components (different type of capacitors, resistors, coils, wiring, terminals) to find best matching combo to desired sound + budget
1.7 If satisfied, go to 2, in not to 1.1
2.0 solder final crossover board
2.1 assemble speakers
3.0 Enjoy!

There is a loop of iterations between 1.1 and 1.7 - this process is science and art,
it included very technical and scientific tasks and listening tests what is more related to how we listen and enjoy the music, not the highs, tweeters and woofers, but how musician want to show his work of art.

There are may speakers what looks technically superb but sound boring or irritating and much less speakers in the world which gives us a joy when we listen to the music music. Both might be very good technically and the difference in frequency response might be just fractions of dB, but how this difference distributed in whole spectrum matters a lot.

Assume, that whole process may take from 2 weeks to 6 month to get speakers sound right, and just multiply amount of hours spent to engineer's salary+taxes, you'll see that costs might be quite restrictive for such upgrades, and parts costs (original cabinets + drivers for Q - good, but not that good as high-end drivers from SB Acoustics, Scan-Speak and Seas), might be just a fraction of total costs and it target is to get state of the art project, would be better to go to better drivers and new design and get even better speakers then upgraded Q.
 

gava

Well-known Member
Everything is possible, but real cost might be surprising for that kind of project.
In fact, what you are looking for is to re-develop new speaker based on the drivers and cabinets you have. It is exactly same job what will be done with new speaker development.

Here are 2 way you have:

- study and jump in deep DIY speaker building yourself , it will be just your time to spend on your hobby, result is unpredictive as in time too in final sound

- send speakers to someone engineer, who can do this job paid. Quite expensive job, which consists of the following tasks:
0.0 completely disassemble speakers
0.1 measure TS parameters of drivers
0.2 check right port alignment and cabinet volume for woofer
0.3 mount drivers back to cabinet with "wires out"
0.4 measure electrical and acoustical parameters - impedance and speaker response
1.0 prepare files for crossover simulation software
1.1 create some crossover model
1.2 solder crossover prototype
1.3 measure impedance and acoustical response
1.4 if response within desired curves, go to listening tests, else to 1.1
1.5 listening with various music, amplifiers in a properly treated room
1.6 try different components (different type of capacitors, resistors, coils, wiring, terminals) to find best matching combo to desired sound + budget
1.7 If satisfied, go to 2, in not to 1.1
2.0 solder final crossover board
2.1 assemble speakers
3.0 Enjoy!

There is a loop of iterations between 1.1 and 1.7 - this process is science and art,
it included very technical and scientific tasks and listening tests what is more related to how we listen and enjoy the music, not the highs, tweeters and woofers, but how musician want to show his work of art.

There are may speakers what looks technically superb but sound boring or irritating and much less speakers in the world which gives us a joy when we listen to the music music. Both might be very good technically and the difference in frequency response might be just fractions of dB, but how this difference distributed in whole spectrum matters a lot.

Assume, that whole process may take from 2 weeks to 6 month to get speakers sound right, and just multiply amount of hours spent to engineer's salary+taxes, you'll see that costs might be quite restrictive for such upgrades, and parts costs (original cabinets + drivers for Q - good, but not that good as high-end drivers from SB Acoustics, Scan-Speak and Seas), might be just a fraction of total costs and it target is to get state of the art project, would be better to go to better drivers and new design and get even better speakers then upgraded Q.
Ah thank you. I had meant to just keep the cabinet and replace/upgrade drivers and perhaps use active crossover. Should simplify a bit, but your response indeed shows why I am better off staying away from DIY unless I one day have a workshop and a separate listening room from my main system. 2 weeks to 6 months of doing this stuff in my flat's living room would not be tolerable. :)
 

D.D.D.

Active Member
Ah thank you. I had meant to just keep the cabinet and replace/upgrade drivers and perhaps use active crossover. Should simplify a bit, but your response indeed shows why I am better off staying away from DIY unless I one day have a workshop and a separate listening room from my main system. 2 weeks to 6 months of doing this stuff in my flat's living room would not be tolerable. :)
DIY might be too difficult if all the things are done in-house, but it might be quite simple if some jobs outsourced.

If you can get cabinets from somewhere (factory cabinets like SB Acoustics offers or order it from woodworking shop), then it simplified to building crossover and screw.in drivers.

If you build copy of proven design, then crossover development is done by designer, and you need to just solder components.

Some designers offer pre-assembled crossover boards, and DIY job goes to more simple way - screw-in drivers and connect wires. This can be done on a table in a flat, no workshop area and no special tools requited.

Finally you'll get a speaker which is a cost of components and does not include thigs like factory speakers - marketing, development,costs, dealer margin. It is quite big savings while you get very competitive sounding speakers.
 

gava

Well-known Member
Well I finally have my new speakers. :)

First impressions are good. They look fantastic in the Black Ash with grills on. They actually look much better than I was expecting.

They are quite heavy (carried them up 3 flights of stairs by myself since our lift is on the blink). My back will doubtless be complaining tomorrow.

How do they sound? Well clearly they are superior in most respects to the C300s. They sound different, so it will take me a little while to get used to them. You never quite know until you get them in your room.

Immediate impressions are that they have clearer midrange and far more authority pretty much everywhere. Lots of detail, and as nice as that is across the full frequency band it's very impressive in the bass. Drums are ridiculously good. I had a friend who was a drummer when I was young and drums through this speaker sound like real drums. Heard some string buzzing on the violins on a track I have listened to many times but never heard before - immediately reminded me of how my daughter's violin used to sound. The monitor heritage of the brand is very apparent.

There is too much bass gain in my room though, so trying to find the right Dirac Live settings without taking away the special fairy dust. They seem to be less DL friendly than the C300s out of the box.

Of course there is still some breaking in to be done, the speakers and my ears. I will re-run the measurements in 2-3 weeks.

What do they have less of? Well the C300s special trick was the ability to vanish if you closed your eyes, sound just floating magically in the air with an infinitely variable sound stage, as deep or wide (or narrow) as the recording asked for. The SCM40 don't do that disappearing act in the same way.

As I had hoped and expected, the C399 has plenty of power and control and synergises very nicely with this beast of a speaker.

C300: Transparent, sweet, beautiful, balanced... effortless.
v
SCM40: Tight, clean, controlled, detailed... technical.

The terms are ridiculous of course, but I wouldn't exactly call either of them musical particularly,

Neither of them is sharp or fatiguing either - unlike my KEF LS50s, which are lovely for short sessions, but quickly become too much.

Overall system upgrade:
QAcoustics Concept 300 + 2x REL T5i => ATC SCM40 + 2x Arendal 1723S.

The new system is clearly technically superior, and I like it very much. I think I will miss the beauty of the old setup though.

If I had to try to sum it all up I would use the old audiophile trope:
Music on the C300s + RELs sounds just as the artist intended.
Music on the SCM40s + Arendals sounds just as it was performed and recorded, never mind what the artist bloody intended. :)
 
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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Delighted you’re happy so far sir 👍 your description is exactly what I like.

I really do need to have a listen to the 40s.

They are now on my list along with Spendors D7.2, Harbeths Super 5s and Some Kudos Super 20s.

I look forward to hearing what you think after a couple of hundred ear re-training hours.
 

Call me Candy

Distinguished Member
Delighted you’re happy so far sir 👍 your description is exactly what I like.

I really do need to have a listen to the 40s.

They are now on my list along with Spendors D7.2, Harbeths Super 5s and Some Kudos Super 20s.

I look forward to hearing what you think after a couple of hundred ear re-training hours.
That my dear man is a serious list of speakers..... I have never heard a Harbeth speaker but am aware of their reputation.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
That my dear man is a serious list of speakers..... I have never heard a Harbeth speaker but am aware of their reputation.

Indeed sir.

It’s taking so long to gather the cash that it must be a worthy buy.

I have to have a list of six. No real point in leaping up the numbers; it’ll be impossible to hear too many and just as difficult to remember their properties.

So those three and three more (one’s likely to be the Neat Orkestra).

Then what I imagine will be bloody hard decision.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Indeed sir.

It’s taking so long to gather the cash that it must be a worthy buy.

I have to have a list of six. No real point in leaping up the numbers; it’ll be impossible to hear too many and just as difficult to remember their properties.

So those three and three more (one’s likely to be the Neat Orkestra).

Then what I imagine will be bloody hard decision.
Paul - even though I created a long Thread about the importance of speaker demos, it's far more of an art than a science.

I would strongly recommend that you use no more than 6-8 songs, that you choose them based on specific musical properties that you prefer (I'm a big fan of Dance and Electronica, so Bass response was an absolute priority for me), and that you make notes or use scores as you listen (I chose three simple parameters - Treble, Midrange, Bass).

I only listened to three speakers at my demo and by the time I got to the third one I had already forgotten what the first sounded like with complete accuracy! Maybe that just says something about my failing memory or powers of recall, but when speakers are quite similar to each other it can be difficult to tell them apart.

It can also be quite a fatiguing experience as you are critically evaluating the speakers, not just listening to music for pleasure or engagement. Thankfully, for me, transparency and resolution were not high in my list of priorities; it was more about how I felt emotionally than intellectually.

From your list so far, Spendor, Neat and Kudos have a reputation for putting musical enjoyment first, ATC and Harbeth are more monitor-like. But none of this matters, really, it's about what works for you and how you respond to your music.

Good luck, looking forward to reading all about it!:)
 

Call me Candy

Distinguished Member
That is a very interesting & informed analysis.
I think that the sound that I am drawn to would be the Spendor, Neat & Kudos. I think those speakers would hit the sweet spot for me.
But damn it I would also love to hear the more premium ranges of Dynaudio & Dali.
Being as the next speakers for me would be endgame..... Intriguing
 

Flobs

Active Member
@gava did you have the concept 300's on there dedicated stands?
Just interested if this 'concept' of trying to isolate the speakers in this 'purest' fashion really works in reality. The concepts are only 4Kg so that 16.5cm mid/bass driver must rock them about a bit.
I go for adding as much weight to the speakers as possible, lesting, blutac ... and experimentation with isolating blocks and/or spikes at the base. It's not really isolating more an absorbing mass.
Of course my method means finding heavy speakers in the 1st place. Seems to give better bass imo.

The SCM's are a nice 30 odd Kg thats giving some balast.
 

gava

Well-known Member
The C300 are 14.5kg per speaker, those cabinets are very dense! They are so much smaller though, it is easy to get your arms around the box to carry them. :) In their boxes I reckon the ATC were at least 35kg per box. I'm amazed I managed to get them up by myself,

Yes I had them on their dedicated stands. I'm not really sure about the audible effects of the isolation, but I can say that when the high-speed trains go by (I'm maybe 50m from the Railway track) the speakers were rock steady when a lot of other little things would rattle.

The SCM40 have a "foot" that you attach which certainly gives it plenty of stability, they won't fall over with anything less than a solid push, but the C300 would easily withstand an earthquake the stands were so well designed.
 

Flobs

Active Member
The C300 are 14.5kg per speaker
Yes, perhaps even more 16.5Kg my error it's the stands that are 4Kg. These speakers did interest me before I fell for my present speakers with lested stands of 35/40Kg a piece o_O Just put off by, what I consider, low impedence, low sensitivity and a bit too musical for me, I need some thing more analytical. Definitely nice speakers and worth considering for small medium sized rooms specially for rooms like mine with lots of acoustic traps. As well as not having confidence in 3 way speakers it's these acoustics traps that push me to 2 way speakers.
20Kg total is quite good in fact even if the stand is designed to isolate should work well in a carpeted wooden floor environment.
Yep, my error, just can't remember anything these days. 🤣
Anyway good luck with the SCM's they appear to be a great speaker and great value.
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
I have been on a mission to choose a speaker upgrade for the last few months, and thanks to many helpful suggestions from forum members have tried many different speakers. All of which have been auditioned in dealers' demo rooms, not in my home.

My overall budget was between £4,000 and an absolute maximum of around £10,000, but didn't really want to go over £8,000. That budget could include a subwoofer upgrade.

The fist thing that I have discovered is that my current system is absolutely fantastic for the price, and seems to have a beautiful synergy. I have listened to systems that cost £25,000 that honestly didn't sound any better that what I currently listen to every day.

The second thing I have discovered is that the room is so crucial that I cannot be totally confident that my subjective impressions of the overall systems are totally reliable.

The third thing that I have discovered is that there really isn't anything horrible (with one possible exception) in that price range. If I was not allowed to choose my own speakers and had any of the ones below forced upon me it wouldn't exactly be a great hardship.

Because it's what I have my current system is my reference: NAD C399, QAcoustics Concept 300 speakers, REL T5i subwoofer X2. Dirac Live running.

I will set my current system at a reference level of 6/10 and keeping the amp constant and say how I think the other speakers I have auditioned would fare in my living room, and to my personal taste. As I said above, I would want to upgrade the subs for some of them, but assuming for the scoring I would do that if necessary.

Amplifiers/streamers included: Linn, Naim, NAD M33, McIntosh, Mola Mola, my C399 - everything the dealers threw at them was pretty high end.

In chronological order of what I listened to:

Wharfedale Elysian 4 (£7,000)
Nice speakers. Quite big and heavy. Very competent performers. Would be happy enough with these. Would likely want a sub but not critical to have one. Likely not much of a real upgrade over what I have now though. Estimated score: 6/10 or 7/10.

JBL Synthesis S3900 (£9,000)

Pretty good. Liked the compression drivers for the upper frequencies. Bass was also good, capable of filling very large rooms. Bit boomy from the port, but I'm sure Dirac Live would tame it just fine. No sub required. Estimated score: 7/10.

KEF R7 (£2,600)

Listened to these as they were in the demo room and they didn't have any R11s, and it was mostly just for comparison to the Wharfedale and JBL. These are nice speakers, nothing to object to here, but not an upgrade. Estimated score: 5/10 or 6/10.

KEF Reference 1 Meta (£7,000)

The only speaker I listened to that could compete with the C300s in soundstage and ability to vanish in the room. They were actually even better at that than the C300s, so definitely an upgrade in that respect. However the treble was way too sharp for me in a weird way. I'm sure a FR graph wouldn't show it, but I get fatigue from my LS50s too, and this was like that but more so. Bass was weak, but it was a big and well damped room. Definitely would need a sub, but I'm sure the bass would be fine in my room and certainly be better than the C300s. This is an excellent speaker, but not for my taste. Estimated score: 8/10 for the first 15 minutes, then 4/10 as my head starts to pound.

Focal Sopra 2 (£13,000)
Very impressive speaker. I liked these a lot. Easy to see why they seem to be something of a reference for their price point. Beryllium tweeter very nice - clear and detailed without the fatigue I got from the KEFs. Mids and bass both impressive. Would not need subwoofer. Unfortunately too expensive though. Estimated score: 9/10.

Spendor D7.2 (£5,600)

Very nice. Wanted to hear the D9.2 but these were available to demo and apparently have a similar sound character. Nothing to object to here. The 7.2 would certainly need a sub. Didn't strike me as an upgrade compared to my current system. Estimated score: 5/10 or 6/10.

PMC Twenty6.24i (£5,700)

Very nice. TL bass quite startling and fun. Could easily live with these. Put a big smile on my face - just a fun speaker - seemed especially good for rock and folk music. I think if you like speakers like the big Klipsch speakers then these are a great alternative. Wanted to hear the 26i, but they are really stretching the budget. Wouldn't need a sub with these. Estimated score: 7/10, wild estimate for 26i: 8/10.

Gold Note A3 Evo II (£3,500)

Nice speakers. Quite similar to the C300s. Possibly a slight upgrade. Was hoping to hear the floorstanders. Estimated score: 6/10 to 7/10.

ATC SCM40 (£4,000)

Absolutely stunning. Hard to drive but I loved these speakers. Listened to every song on my playlist from start to finish and went back and listened to some of them again. How could they be so cheap? Will definitely need upgraded subs, and to match their quality will likely need £2,500 to £3,000 for the subs. Estimated score: 9/10

Dynaudio Confidence 20i (£9,000)

Listened to these after the SCM40. Very competent speakers. Fairly similar sound signature to the C300. Just a straight upgrade, but I wasn't totally blown away - especially considering the price. Estimated score: 8/10.

Goldenear Triton One.R (£7,000)

Massive disappointment. Treble fine, not as nice as silk domes though - similar to the Wharfedales, good by not particularly to my taste. Mids shouty and fatiguing and astonishingly lacking in detail. Bass flabby, soft and poorly integrated. Really not good. Sounded like a very big bluetooth speaker. Managed to simultaneously be too loud and too soft. Estimated score: 3/10

Final conclusion:

Firstly the C300s are amazing at their price and I am loathe to get rid of them. Great synergy with my C399 and Dirac Live combo. If I hadn't been so blown away by the ATC I would be seriously considering simply upgrading to the C500s.

However, I definitely see the ATC SCM40s in my future, fortunately they are at the bottom end of my price range, so will also be going for a sub upgrade too.

Phew, I'm finally exhausted now. I feel like I have listened to enough speakers to have figured out what I like.
It's amazing you get into this price range & still the problems are there. I can't afford to go there but it does astonish me that its possible pay that high price for something that can still not meet expectations. I.e. golden ear triton 1r.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
It's amazing you get into this price range & still the problems are there. I can't afford to go there but it does astonish me that its possible pay that high price for something that can still not meet expectations. I.e. golden ear triton 1r.
To be fair, you can get a taste of the ATC for well under £2k. The SCM11 has the same tweeter and (I assume) the mid/bass is the same as the SCM40's mid. A mate has a pair and, even run off a budget amp, it is phenomenal. So accurate and detailed, but somehow not fatiguing at all. Very "sweet" sounding.
If I were for changing, they'd definitely be on the audition list.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
To be fair, you can get a taste of the ATC for well under £2k. The SCM11 has the same tweeter and (I assume) the mid/bass is the same as the SCM40's mid. A mate has a pair and, even run off a budget amp, it is phenomenal. So accurate and detailed, but somehow not fatiguing at all. Very "sweet" sounding.
If I were for changing, they'd definitely be on the audition list.

I don't think the SCM40 has the same tweeter as the SCM11. I believe it's an upgraded version on the 40. The mid/bass is definitely not the same as the SCM11. The 40's mid is closer to the SCM19, but again is an upgraded version.

I found that the SCM11 is a very good speaker on its own, though I preferred the SCM19 in my room. I even preferred the 19 to the 40 for my own use. Having said that, if I changed rooms, I'd try the 40 again as it definitely was magical to my ears. In my case, the SCM19s replaced my Spendor D7s. They are supported by a subwoofer though.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
I don't think the SCM40 has the same tweeter as the SCM11. I believe it's an upgraded version on the 40. The mid/bass is definitely not the same as the SCM11. The 40's mid is closer to the SCM19, but again is an upgraded version.

I found that the SCM11 is a very good speaker on its own, though I preferred the SCM19 in my room. I even preferred the 19 to the 40 for my own use. Having said that, if I changed rooms, I'd try the 40 again as it definitely was magical to my ears. In my case, the SCM19s replaced my Spendor D7s. They are supported by a subwoofer though.
I stand corrected. They must be quite something if they're better!
 

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