Speaker Advice Needed Please

gava

Active Member
Hello, first post needing advice. Please be kind. :)

I was looking for a new hifi & speakers for the longest time and auditioned many amp/streamers and speaker combination. These things were a huge surprise to me in the system < £3000 range:
  • Didn't like the Cambridge Audio amps CXA60/80.
  • Didn't like NAD amps.
  • Didn't like the Rotel amps.
  • Didn't like the Arcam amps.
  • Didn't like Focal Aria 926/936 speakers.
  • Didn't like the new Wharfedale 4.4 Evo series at all.
  • Didn't like the bookshelf B&W 600s.
The reason I think I didn't like most of those combinations is that they all seemed too slow and warm or mellow to me. I think I prefer a brighter and faster sound. Perhaps I have been conditioned by using headphones a lot over the last few years, or perhaps it's a change in my hearing as I get older. (I seem to have lost 14K-16K, but I can still hear 17K !!) I didn't try the more expensive stuff - I would be surprised if those brands didn't have stuff out of my price range that I would love.

What I eventually got:
  • Marantz PM7000N
  • KEF LS50
  • REL T5i subwoofer
Mostly I am very happy:
  • I listen to 80% classical and the combo is mostly very good.
  • The rest is quite mixed, but includes a fair bit of folk & blues which is mostly very good.
  • For electronic/synth music unfortunately and other some rock/metal it falls down when the bass needs sustained fast attack and recovery - high beats per minute stuff.
  • The sub takes care of <100Hz, but in the 100-600Hz range the speakers can struggle to keep up if there is sustained and fast bass track, it starts to lose its edge and bleed, even though the higher and lower frequencies are fine, so it sounds a bit unbalanced and muffled in the bass.
  • I also have the amp connected to my TV optical out and the combo sounds more than good enough, I am quite unlikely to want a surround setup in the near future.
  • So I think I need a 3-way design. I will keep the sub and set it down to 80Hz if I can find a set of bookshelf or floorstanders that will be just as good in the midrange and treble as the LS50s, but also cope better with bass.
So now I am looking for (hopefully) a long-term upgrade as it will take a couple of years to pay these off if I go for something more expensive. I did have my previous set of speakers for 15 years though.

Ideas for speaker upgrade
  • KEF R3 (wait until the Meta version is released ?? - though who could guess when that might be). (£1,400)
  • KEF R7 (wait until the Meta version is released ?? - though who could guess when that might be). (£2,600)
  • Monitor Audio Gold 200 5G (£2,900)
  • B&W 702 S2 (but I find them almost unbearably ugly with the tweeter on top). (£3,400)
  • Klipsch RP-6000F (£1,100)
  • Something else <£4,000. I have learned that price isn't necessarily going to be the deciding factor. But it's quite hard to audition things at the moment.
Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

Thanks,
Craig
 

Orobas

Well-known Member
If you love classical.. i'd be very tempted to look in the italian sector with something like Sonus Faber and their Sonetto II in at the £1900 mark... beautiful with classical music but you really have to get that amp right and i am not sure that Marantz will serve the Sonus the sound they need...
Alternatively for a slightly cheaper but easier partnership with the marantz i might possibly suggest the RUSSELL K RED 100 in at around the £1500 mark.
Both are beautiful speakers for classical but i think the marantz is the weak link here..
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The LS50s are not the speaker for classical. The R3 would be better choice with it's three way design. R3 Meta Version? Have you heard something I haven't? Good choice of speakers from @Orobas above as classical will do better with airy speakers, those that can give a good depth, scope and timing.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Have a look at the ATC SCM40’s if you are after fast, revealing speakers. However these will need some serious horsepower to get the best from them, unfortunately the PM7000n does not have ore-outs so looks like a whole new system.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
At the risk of being unimaginative and just recommending what I've got, it sounds to me like a Lyngdorf 1120 (built in streamer) or 2170 (more powerful; would have to add a streamer) and a pair of Dynaudio Special Forties would be right up your street from what you have said. If you sold the PM7000n and the KEFs, then you should be able to get these under the £4000 additional outlay assuming that is the idea.

You could always try the Marantz with the Dynaudios first of course and see how you get on. The reason I think a Lyngdorf will suit you is because they're just super transparent, so none of the added warmth that can cloud the mid/upper registers, and they also have DSP 'voicings' which allow you to tweak the sound balance to your preference which could help if you do want to brighten things up a bit.

And of course there's RoomPerfect room correction which also perfectly integrates the sub with the main speakers for you...

I also like @Ugg10 's suggestion. There are a couple of pairs s/h of SCM40s on Ebay at the moment. Those are a pair of speakers I'd love to try.
 

gava

Active Member
Thanks for some interesting ideas..

The Marantz is actually reasonably powerful - it's a conservative 60W and has no trouble at all driving the LS50s to very loud volumes - and they have 85db sensitivity. Of course it's not a VERY powerful amplifier, but it's probably capable enough - my sofa is only 3m from the speakers.

I am trying to be cautious because this system sounds better (perhaps I am eccentric in my tastes) than some stuff I tried that was £2,000 more expensive - and to my ears it is generally very good for classical with the REL filling in the low frequencies.

It's very capable for classical in general - piano, violin, quartets, organ. It struggles only with some full orchestral recordings getting the full scale - but many recordings - or indeed concert halls present a wall of sound with little sense of separation no matter what the equipment. Recordings in churches in particular are astonishingly good with my current gear and I don't want to lose sharpness and clarity for some warm mellow sound.

I take the point though that the Marantz is certainly not capable of driving some speakers the SCM40 would be too much I'm sure. The two brands of amplifier that I have liked most over the years have been Yamaha and Marantz, but I have hardly heard that much only when I wanted to upgrade - listen tohalf-a-dozen things and choose what I liked most.

I think I should definitely try the Sonus Faber Sonetto III, and perhaps the Fyne F501SP - which seem to be easy to drive - any thoughts on those? Maybe also something from JBL?

I am convinced I need a 3-way speaker.
 

Orobas

Well-known Member
Thanks for some interesting ideas..

The Marantz is actually reasonably powerful - it's a conservative 60W and has no trouble at all driving the LS50s to very loud volumes - and they have 85db sensitivity. Of course it's not a VERY powerful amplifier, but it's probably capable enough - my sofa is only 3m from the speakers.

I am trying to be cautious because this system sounds better (perhaps I am eccentric in my tastes) than some stuff I tried that was £2,000 more expensive - and to my ears it is generally very good for classical with the REL filling in the low frequencies.

It's very capable for classical in general - piano, violin, quartets, organ. It struggles only with some full orchestral recordings getting the full scale - but many recordings - or indeed concert halls present a wall of sound with little sense of separation no matter what the equipment. Recordings in churches in particular are astonishingly good with my current gear and I don't want to lose sharpness and clarity for some warm mellow sound.

I take the point though that the Marantz is certainly not capable of driving some speakers the SCM40 would be too much I'm sure. The two brands of amplifier that I have liked most over the years have been Yamaha and Marantz, but I have hardly heard that much only when I wanted to upgrade - listen tohalf-a-dozen things and choose what I liked most.

I think I should definitely try the Sonus Faber Sonetto III, and perhaps the Fyne F501SP - which seem to be easy to drive - any thoughts on those? Maybe also something from JBL?

I am convinced I need a 3-way speaker.
if you must ... must go 3 way then check out the Wharfedale Linton Heritage

These can be driven with something as minor as a Rega Elex-R.. and I would not want to partner then with anything less than either.. They are a rare speaker in their sound gelling and seriously worth an audition. They are huge.. and need monster stands... three-way bass-reflex design with an 8" woven-Kevlar woofer, a 5" woven-Kevlar midrange, and a 1" soft-dome tweeter. Its rear-ported cabinet is made from veneered chipboard/MDF—the front baffle is painted black—and measures 22.25" tall by 11.8" wide by 13" deep. They also weigh around 20KG each. They are 6ohm nominal with average dips to 3.5ohm and under so will need current and lots of it... Price wise.. again in the £1500 - £2000 mark in keeping with the Sonus and Russells

Wharfedale-Linton-Heritage-6-scaled-1.jpg
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I am convinced I need a 3-way speaker.

Whilst appearance may not be to everyone's taste, I think you'd be blown away with all music genres emanating from these:

and

They will (likely) sound 'faster', clearer in the bass and more dynamic than any of the passive speakers you're considering. They also won't compress musical peaks or hide very low-level detail - as many passives seem to. Unfortunately though, as @Ugg10 has pointed out, your amp doesn't have pre-amp outputs for active speakers.

Room size is an important consideration when choosing speakers - unless, perhaps, you go down the DSP room correction route. So what's the room size?
 

gava

Active Member
Whilst appearance may not be to everyone's taste, I think you'd be blown away with all music genres emanating from these:

and

They will (likely) sound 'faster', clearer in the bass and more dynamic than any of the passive speakers you're considering. They also won't compress musical peaks or hide very low-level detail - as many passives seem to. Unfortunately though, as @Ugg10 has pointed out, your amp doesn't have pre-amp outputs for active speakers.

Room size is an important consideration when choosing speakers - unless, perhaps, you go down the DSP room correction route. So what's the room size?


Those do look interesting, ugly but interesting. :)

With something like these I could always get myself a DAC with a remote - more like the kind of thing I'd put on my desk, but I believe they would sound great as a hifi.

My room is kinda weird shaped. It's semi-open plan. The total dimensions are perhaps 7m x 6m, but the listening bit is maybe 3.5 x 3.5 Tried to draw a picture, but the auto-formatting destroyed it.
 

gava

Active Member
if you must ... must go 3 way then check out the Wharfedale Linton Heritage

These can be driven with something as minor as a Rega Elex-R.. and I would not want to partner then with anything less than either.. They are a rare speaker in their sound gelling and seriously worth an audition. They are huge.. and need monster stands... three-way bass-reflex design with an 8" woven-Kevlar woofer, a 5" woven-Kevlar midrange, and a 1" soft-dome tweeter. Its rear-ported cabinet is made from veneered chipboard/MDF—the front baffle is painted black—and measures 22.25" tall by 11.8" wide by 13" deep. They also weigh around 20KG each. They are 6ohm nominal with average dips to 3.5ohm and under so will need current and lots of it... Price wise.. again in the £1500 - £2000 mark in keeping with the Sonus and Russells

Wharfedale-Linton-Heritage-6-scaled-1.jpg
Beautiful, but unfortunately a bit too large.
 

Orobas

Well-known Member
Beautiful, but unfortunately a bit too large.
Yeah no worries that's understandable.. i did say they were huge lol.. but they did what it said on the tin.. play what you wanted and were a genuine 3 way that actually works properly..
It was worth a mention though
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
My room is kinda weird shaped. It's semi-open plan. The total dimensions are perhaps 7m x 6m, but the listening bit is maybe 3.5 x 3.5

Whilst I've listened to my music playback systems (past and present) in many different sized rooms, these rooms have all been regular, rectangular shapes so I don't have a feel for irregular shapes. The size of speaker that would suit a typical rectangular 42 sqm room would be even larger than the Linton Heritage - and that speaker would probably seem overbearingly large when positioned in the 3.5m x 3.5m listening area. Likewise, the active speakers I mentioned in post#9 may also appear a little overbearing in the listening area.

Best guess: something the size of Focal Aria 906 or maybe even Monitor Audio Silver 100 (I'm not recommending these particular speakers as I've never heard them).

I am convinced I need a 3-way speaker.

Very few relatively compact passive three-ways although quite a few actives.
 

gava

Active Member
At the risk of being unimaginative and just recommending what I've got, it sounds to me like a Lyngdorf 1120 (built in streamer) or 2170 (more powerful; would have to add a streamer) and a pair of Dynaudio Special Forties would be right up your street from what you have said. If you sold the PM7000n and the KEFs, then you should be able to get these under the £4000 additional outlay assuming that is the idea.

You could always try the Marantz with the Dynaudios first of course and see how you get on. The reason I think a Lyngdorf will suit you is because they're just super transparent, so none of the added warmth that can cloud the mid/upper registers, and they also have DSP 'voicings' which allow you to tweak the sound balance to your preference which could help if you do want to brighten things up a bit.

I have been looking into the Dynaudio Special 40s, and perhaps their slightly bigger brother the Contour 20i. To say that the Special 40s have some rave reviews is something of an understatement. Given the larger mid/bass driver (compared to the LS50) and general upmarket components and build I suspect that they would do the trick. Most reviewers say that the Dynaudio are not particularly hard to drive. The Marantz is 60W into 8 Ohm, 80W into 4Ohm which should be more than sufficient considering how many people love the S40 paired with 20/30 W tube amps.

Meantime, I have been tweaking the REL Sub so that actually the 100-500hz region is sounding a lot better, I was using a spectrum analyser to help get it more balanced. Crossover + 25Hz and volume down and the lower bass is working much better now. It's now become very recording dependant, which I guess is what it should be. I'm pretty happy with the overall setting - mostly "just right" with the occasional track too much or too little bass. Everthing that sounded good before still sounds good, and most of the stuff that wasn't sounding as good is sounding spot-on too. I guess this is what speaker designers go through all the time tweaking their crossovers. :)

Problem solved right? It sounds great. I heard systems that were way more expensive that sounded not nearly as good. Except you know that's not how it works. Having gotten an upgrade worm into my head I can't stop thinking about it.

My success with the sub configuration makes me wonder how good I could get the sound with a higher end set of bookshelves. So Dynaudio S40 or Contour 20i, Fyne F1-5, plus many others, [please insert suggestions], etc. I am still setting an upper limit of £4,000 for the speakers. The plan is to keep the amplifier for now and upgrade that in 2-3 years after paying off the speakers (I have to set a monthly budget for my hobbies otherwise it gets out of hand).

I do have a suspicion that the most sensible thing to do is still wait for KEF to release a next-gen R3 with the metamaterials. The strange room shape does make me think that off-axis performance may be quite important for people not sitting in my spot and movies, etc. Price is likely to be very reasonable too.

I am either going to need a store that does home trials, or can setup the other components for a trial. Oh well, at least my immediate crisis has been averted and I am absolutely loving sitting on my sofa listening to music. My teenage daughters look at me like I'm some sort of cute puppy.
 
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Hear Here

Active Member
Did you try all the amps you didn't like in your own home with the same speakers? I suspect not judging by your conclusions. This is the only way to properly assess the merits of an amp

For mainly classical I doubt that a small speaker with a subwoofer is your best solution. Subs are best with home theatre systems and best avoided for 2 channel music, particularly classical. Better is a big floorstander that is designed to reproduce the full range without the troughs and peaks that are difficult to avoid if adding a sub to a stand-mount.

You suggest that NAD (amongst others) is less bright and fast than you'd prefer. Their best amps are well into the fast and bright area, although of course you need bright and fast speakers - hence my initial question. I have had well over a dozen amps in my system after deciding to move from tubes to ss and chose the NAD M32 (now I have the M33 with Purifi amp module) as the ideal match for my Avantgarde Duo speakers. No one could say this amp isn't fast and bright - in fact the feeling that the soloist is sitting on your equipment rack singing just for you is overwhelming.

You're asking about the future with a bigger budget. I'd suggest big full-range floorstanding speakers and an amp such as the true bargain NAD M33. There are lots of alternatives that you should try at home, but get the speaker right first - bright and fast if that's your preference - and then find a compatible amp. Spend lots more on your speakers than anything else.

PS - Lifelike and exciting is what I'm seeking but I suspect your "bright and fast" equated more or less!
 

gava

Active Member
Did you try all the amps you didn't like in your own home with the same speakers? I suspect not judging by your conclusions. This is the only way to properly assess the merits of an amp

I admit I have no idea how I would go about arranging such a thing other than with huge quantities of cash.

I have no doubt that everything I did try only sounded poor to me at that price point in the combinations I listened to and not for very extended periods either just in the listening rooms at the dealers. I mean I did spend a few hours overall, but that is not enough to be sure.

The "brand sound" may be a thing to some degree, but of course the M33 is much better than anything I tried. I would love to have one - if I stay interested in the hobby I may well choose it as my next upgrade after the speakers. I do like the simplicity of a amp/streamer in one box, and it has enough power to drive almost any normal speaker.

A 10k system with one of those for 4 and a nice set of floorstanders at 6k would be a lot of fun to shop for.

Thanks for the advice. :)
 

Hear Here

Active Member
I admit I have no idea how I would go about arranging such a thing other than with huge quantities of cash.

I have no doubt that everything I did try only sounded poor to me at that price point in the combinations I listened to and not for very extended periods either just in the listening rooms at the dealers. I mean I did spend a few hours overall, but that is not enough to be sure.

The "brand sound" may be a thing to some degree, but of course the M33 is much better than anything I tried. I would love to have one - if I stay interested in the hobby I may well choose it as my next upgrade after the speakers. I do like the simplicity of a amp/streamer in one box, and it has enough power to drive almost any normal speaker.

A 10k system with one of those for 4 and a nice set of floorstanders at 6k would be a lot of fun to shop for.

Thanks for the advice. :)
Gava - I tried the dozen plus amps over a period of a couple of years and always in my own home for at least a week. Some were demo units from dealers, but several were used amps purchased at a price that I felt I could re-sell with only a small loss - if any.

Some were great amps I was sad to see leave (Accuphase A-36, GamuT D200 and others) but overall I chose the NAD M32 and only recently changed it for the M33. Both those amps are excellent with the M33 sounding marginally better but the M32 having a better control system. I've made some suggestions to NAD and perhaps future software versions will improve its control system

Your idea of £4K for the M33 (new) and £6K on speakers is an excellent way to get superb sound within that budget - and you don't need to spend a fortune on all those bloody cables that NEVER improve sound quality however costly.

For speakers in particular I'd suggest you look at used ones if you can decide what you want. My last speakers were used Avantgarde Duos from about 2006, bought in 2019 to replace 2002-cintage Unos. I'm hard pressed to claim that my new Duo XDs (at £32K list) are much better. The old Duos cost a fraction of that and are still spectacular. However there's so much variety in the speaker market you'll need to do a good deal of research first. Your room size and acoustics will influence your choice of type of speaker - horns, electrostatics, etc. Good luck. Peter
 
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dogfonos

Well-known Member
The reason I think I didn't like most of those combinations is that they all seemed too slow and warm or mellow to me. I think I prefer a brighter and faster sound.

Most passive speakers I auditioned sounded sluggish for my tastes too but that was many moons ago and perhaps things have improved? I'm not saying there isn't the odd passive speaker out there that could satisfy your quest for a faster, more immediate sound, but good luck finding the ideal amp/speaker combination - assuming it even exists.

Personally, as many others have done (and continue to do), I changed technology. I ditched passive speakers and opted for active. Actives gave me that sense of immediacy/exhuberance/speed that I didn't hear with most passives. I believe there are sound (ouch!) technological reasons for this difference, though not everyone would agree on that point.

Back in the day, actives were used exclusively by music professionals with hardly any models aimed at the domestic/hobbyist market. Not so any more. Apart from the studio-based ones I mentioned in post#9 (and there are many other excellent studio-based options in your price bracket), actives like this one...


...are aimed at the domestic market and getting rave reviews from just about everyone who hears them. Other domestically orientated actives are available but the majority are still aimed at the professional market - which usually offer better sound-per-pound, IMO.

When looking to update an already high-quality setup, especially when aiming for the type of sound you're after, you owe it to yourself to listen to a pair of quality actives in your room. Sellers like Buchard offer sale or return. Perfect for pandemic times.
 

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