Speaker Audition: impressions


Prominent Member
Nov 2, 2002
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A Spaniard in Germany
This weekend I went to audition some speakers, because I want to have something balanced with my receiver, Yamaha RX-V530.
The guy in the shop was very nice, and sounded profesional... Now I share with you my experience, so you can tell me wrong, right, good or bad :)
First of all, he said that if I have the place, floorstanding was the way to go.
Then he showed me the following (supposed to match with my amp, and not so good that I will be thinking "I'd get better sound if I change my amp"):
Klipsch RF 15
B&W DM 603, 602.5
Kef Q3
Infinity Alpha 30

And also another from B&W, he said DM303, but I think he mistaked because these are not floorstanding... Ok, if you think I aim too high with this speakers to go with my receiver, please tell me... I am also thinking about a Yamaha s-540 dvd player to complete the set, because now I have a cheap dvd player...
I also want to audition (but they didn't have them in this shop) Wharfedale Diamond, Magnat Vector and something from Canton... These are cheaper than the ones I said before, so tell me what you think about it...
Ok, now impressions about the speakers (all by comparing with each other the speakers in the list) [amp and cd player were Yamaha's, in the range of my setup]:
The infinity Alpha 30 is the last in my ranking... The high frequencies are very peaked and the bass didn't sound strong enough, neither with enough definition. At first, I liked the sound, but after a while and comparing with the B&W (for example), I realized the sound was worse.
At position 3, the Kef Q3's. Funny that I didn't like them at all in the beginning, thinking that the sound was muffled and unclean, not well defined. I very much preferred the Infinity's... but after a while listening, the Infinity's went down in my ranking, while the Kef's gave me a quite better impression, although still far from the B&W. It is interesting to note that I was kind of biased with the Kef's, because I liked them very much "on paper"... Maybe I expected too much from them in the beginning, so I was disappointed. But in one hour listening there, I could be completely impartial. Actually, I didn't check prices or names, I only wrote the label numbers down to identify them (But the Kef's and Infinity's were easy to identify)... The grills were on, so it was not that easy with the others.
Then come the B&W, they had 3 different models, one of them unknown for me (as I said, they could not be the DM303, which is what the guy said...). I was very pleased with theses speakers, the sound was even and clear, I could hear some details I hadn't before! Specially with the 603. They were able to build a good soundstage even in the strange set up in the shop, which I could not get so good from the former ones. The sound became wider and cleaner. Balanced and clear high freq, and good bass response without overwhelming. Sound was detailed and defined. I very liked them!
In the top of the ranking I have the Klipsch, which were not much better than the B&W, but the sound image was wider and deeper. Maybe a little enhancement of the high freq was noticeable, but never annoying... Only with respect to the B&W's. All comments about B&W are also truth for the Klipsch.

This is my ranking, let's see what you think about it... And most important, if you think I aim too high or not... As soon as I can hear the second list of speakers I wrote here, I will let you know.
Oh, btw, also some Dynaudio and T+A were there, but I didn't like the sound... I think they are oriented to classical music... I mean, the sound was very good, but very laid back, serious and tight. As someone told me already, Dynaudios are a difficult load for the Yamaha amp, that can also be the reason.
The B&W are very popular with forum members in UK with good reason but it's unfortunate that your top speakers - Klipsch, aren't available over here so most of us will have never heard them.
Oh, I didn't know that... I have just entered the web site, and found they have a distributor:

PHONE: 01992-573030

But I could only find they sell some TXH speakers for PC... It is a pity, I was really impressed.... But as I said, B&W was not really worse :)
Actually, I have seen that there is a review in home cinema choice about some Klipsch, and they are not very well rated... I believe these guys know more about it than me, so maybe I am not yet "well educated" to listen and compare speakers.
I can see now, for example, one of my mistakes: not all speakers have the same sensitivity, so I should have the volume turned up with the Q3, to make a fair comparison. I keep on learning!
I'd like to communicate you something new I learnt: horn speakers have a much higher efficiency/sensibility (up to one order of magnitude) than normal ones. This is what made me feel much better staggering effects with the Klipsch than with the B&W... I'd have to raise the volume 3dB for the B&W in order to compare. Same mistake as with the Kef's!
Don't listen to Alvin Gold in that review listen to the speakers. If you like the Klipsch sound then nothing else will come close. The sheer speed and dynamic power of the high efficiency Klipsch is amazing. Yes there is a mild high frequency horn colouration but it's nothing to worry about and Klipsch owners like the 'detail' it adds to the sound.

The RF-15 are 96dbw and 8 ohm so a really easy load for the Yamaha and the Reference range is well regarded in the USA. You could check the American forums at AVS where Klipsch are common. In the UK they were and are hard to get, years ago I had to specially order my Klipsch KG 4.5 and they were the first into the country. They were also large and I had to sell them last year :(

From your descriptions of the various speaker's sounds I think your hearing is perfectly good. The Dynaudio are detailed but smooth whereas the B&W and Klipsch are more 'in your face'. I think the best way of choosing is to go back and listen to the ones you liked a second time and then pick one.

Have fun with your second round of testing.
Hey, thanks... I started thinking I had problems with my hearing criteria...
My friends, who also like music very much, believe I have goldened ears, but I always doubt it (I am modest). I was going to believe that they just said it because they are friends! :)

My only problem now is that I like the RF-15, which are 375 euro EACH... I expected to spend no more than 400 for BOTH... And the Q3 were falling in that limit, but I liked the Klipsch more (and I had never heard they were any good)... A little bit more than the B&W, because of the impressive stage that it builds. Could be that the B&W are more detailed, but I didn't listen long enough, and it the right conditions (if I finally go for them, I'll ask to get both home to demo and listen peacefully and relaxed -- although I still need to put some carpets and curtains to absorbe annoying echoes). I didn't pay enough attention to voices, which I've heard is a hard task for any speaker. Actually, if I regard them finally as even to each other, I think I'd take B&W because the looks are better... Unless it is possible to use the Klipsch without those awful feet.

It is a big deal of money, and I am a spanish guy in Germany that hopes to get back home someday (I do my PhD, then maybe a post-doc here too)... I don't know if it is worth to carry them afterwards wherever I may go... These are the downsides of research.

I think that such speakers are worth to keep for a really long term (although I suppose they don't loose much value in second hand market).

Do you think I should content myself with some middle level thing until I settle somewhere?
The speakers I used for the longest time were a 5 pack of Acoustic Energy AE 101 that I got discounted direct from AE. They were nowhere near the best speakers in the world but worked very well together as a home cinema package. I got bored and sold them which was not a good idea. What I learned was that matching sets of speakers is a good thing for the sound and that even when I like something I seem to sell it. :rolleyes:

Also speakers do not hold their value, if you are worried by that then you have to buy second hand.

Hope that helps you somehow.
Personally, I've never heard a Kef that I was impressed with for the money. If you like the B+W, may I suggest you also try Ruark, if they are available over there.

Never heard Klipsch but otherwise I think you are spot on in your ranking.
Unfortunately, there is no distributor of Ruark in Germany... Didn' find anything of them around.
I hope I can follow the impressions after the weekend, if I manage to go for my second audition, this time in Worms (closest place with Wharfs, 1 hour from here...). I have to give them a call and inform me what other makes they have, I bet they'll have B&W at least, so I can use them as a reference!
And, if they also have Magnat, I'll be really pleased... Although hifi dealers here do not have Magnat, it is kind of a big-shop product, like MediaMArkt and so on. I don't know why, because although they do produce a lot of ****y speakers, they are also involved with very good hifi stuff...
I have more input, but since it got little attention here, I put everything in a new thread: "Second Audition: more speakers in my ranking!!". You can see there how it went.


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