Spent £1k - still not happy

Discussion in 'What Speakers Should I Buy?' started by Bryce86, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Bryce86

    Bryce86
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    I love music and I love films. Decided to treat myself to a decent set of speakers as I gathered soundbars arent up to the task on the music side of things.

    I hoped to get a set of speakers that would fill the room with sound and bass, crisp and detailed for all types of music and to replicate that cinema feel in my own living room. I bought the following:

    Speakers
    Focal Aria 906 review from the experts at whathifi.com
    [​IMG]

    with
    Marantz M-CR610 review from the experts at whathifi.com
    [​IMG]

    We're currently watching The Great Gatsby and when we watched it at the cinema the soundtrack was about 50% of what made the film for me. At one point Florence (singer/soundtrack) is playing whilst a character is speaking. At the cinema both seemed to be at the same volume and completely intensified the scene. Tonight with my new speakers, Florence seemed to fade into the background and the scene was a bit meh.

    Don't get me wrong, they are good but I just expected a little more - or am I expecting too much?
     
  2. smasher50

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    fwiw speaker placement is very critical . how are these set up in your room
     
  3. BlueWizard

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    First and foremost make absolutely positively beyond any shadow of a doubt sure that the speakers are wired properly. That in every case the Amp(+) goes to the Speaker(+).

    Next as Smasher50 says, were are the speakers place relative to the side walls and walls behind the speakers. This is less critical with bookshelf, but still important. When you get too close to the wall, that increases the bass, but it does do to the detriment of the midrange. The distance doesn't have to be huge, but the more bass the speaker naturally has, the worse it will sound close to the wall.

    You have a more powerful than average mini-amp, but not exceptional power. It doesn't see as if that is the problem at the moment though.

    Also, how long have you been using the speakers? It usually takes several hours to get the speaker broke-in and sounding close to its final sound. This can vary from speaker brand to speaker brand. It took my Wharfedale about 200 hours to reach their final sound. Though more often it is about 30 to 50 hours.

    Use the speaker as much as possible in the first few weeks. I think I listened to music about 6 hours per day, then in the evening listened to TV for about 4 hours. So, averaging about 10 hours a day, but remember for me, it took 200 hours. The levels don't have to be exceptional, just as you would normally listen.

    Lastly, there is the element of room acoustics. Bare ultra-modern rooms are an acoustical nightmare. Old fashioned softly furnished cluttered room are acoustically much better. Since you main complain seems to be in the mid/voice range, most soft furnishings like curtains and carpet will soften the room acoustics for voice. Bare floors, bare walls, windows with no curtains, etc... will cause short delay echos that could interfere with speech.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  4. Richy1984

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    I'm a bit confused.. You bought a stereo (ie 2 speakers without a sub) and seem to be comparing it to cinema sound (5 speakers (or more) and a sub). It is hardly a fair comparison. Also, you have bought standmount speakers which can be great for music, and vbery good for bas, but are never going to completely fill the room with very deep bass. What youve bought is a very nice simpe stereo which I bet will sound great with music (once run in and properly set-up), but its not going to compete with a full cinema system.

    Speaker positioning as people have said makes a big difference. Pull them away from walls, out into the room a little, get them nicely spaced apart on good stands and play around with the angle of them to perfect the sound.

    The focals get great reviews and are known to be a crisp sounding speaker so give them time, and play around with the set-up. There is no reason why as I say that they shouldnt sound very nice for most music. Films are another matter. Yes a nice stereo can do well for films but unless you have very very big speakers it will never rival a cinema system for deep bass, room filling sound / impact.
     
  5. foxmeister

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    Yep, agreed on the break in period.

    Even though i knew this to be an element in new speakers, after buying and retrieving my Dali Zensor 3's, i expected a big "Wow" moment straight from the box.......I didnt get it, they sounded good, but like lots of other lower grade type speakers with hifi systems etc. After running them about 2 days, what a difference just after 4-8hrs, since then, i have probably clocked up around 40-50 hours max and the development has been fantastic, like a treat every time i use them next and new sounds appear.

    Dali's are usually around 100hrs run in from what i gathered, so i still have a bit to go and more improvement which can only be a massive enjoyment hearing them change for the better.
     
  6. lokyc

    lokyc
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    Agree with all the points made. But you also have to be realistic.

    Room filling sound from your setup when playing movies is not easy to achieve.

    Small bookshelves are expensive because they are accurate and refined. But they can't go that loud. they will hit breakup point very quickly if they also have to do sound effects. Spare a thought for the solitary woofer.

    Next is amplification. Your miniamp will struggle to bring out the complex, multitextured sound stage.

    I love Lez Burzmann's Great Gatsby too. Sound wise, the moment for me was the haunting, atmospheric voice of Lana Del Ray as Gatsby and Daisy meet. the sound from the surround channel was completely intoxicating.

    Listening it in 2.1 from a FLAC of the soundtrack, and the sound is much flatter. Didn't improve until I gt a power amp.

    Which is not to say you wouldn't get good sound. But recreating that "live" experience is not that easy.

    Your best bet would be to dry more intimate material, like Jazz, Blues. the beauty of clear speakers is their quietness. The few instruments really stand out.
     
  7. lordlemon

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    Speakers dont need to be run in its nonsense what happens is people get use to the sound it's very hard to get cinema sound in a home environment tHe only way I could get great sound was using headphones they make the sound so clear
     
  8. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965
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    It's hard, but not impossible...it also isn't cheap either. Having recently installed 5 x MK Sound 150 series speakers and built 2 x 15" sealed sub woofers (and spent a fair amount of time using REW to chose best locations and pre EQ before Audyssey) I think I'm there. Of course headphones would have been cheaper, but I wouldn't get my sofa shaking on LFE or have surround sound either. Plus everyone else can hear it too.

    I disagree about the running in thing too, especially the 15" drivers in my subs as they have noticeably changed as they have run from new.
     
  9. twoeyedbob

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    Thats what happens when you listen to 'what hifi'
    :D
     
  10. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965
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    Dunno if you mean me, but I never buy that rag myself.
     
  11. twoeyedbob

    twoeyedbob
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    Original post
     
  12. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon
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    Speakers do need to be run in. It is not nonsense at all. The difference can also be measured with the right equipment and method.

    It isn't easy to create a decent 'cinema-like' experience in a living room environment, as limitations and compromises will always stand in the way, but many people do just that and still thoroughly enjoy it.

    A dedicated room opens up the potential for great things and there are plenty of threads in the Member's Home Cinema Gallery from people that clearly disagree with your opinion.

    I've not been to a cinema for over 10 years now, because I feel that I get a far better experience at home - which has improved as I upgraded my system.
     
  13. lordlemon

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    Speaker burn in is complete FOO used by dealers trying to use excuses that you need to acclimatise to your purchase belongs with silly expensive cables
    Yes the room will have a great effect on the performance and a dedicated room is the way to go as it will have had some thought on good speaker placement and materials to improve sound after all Commercial cinemas put great effort into room construction of materials and I have observed the drawings
     
  14. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon
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    You don't have to believe that speakers need to be run in, but just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it isn't true.

    The "expensive cables don't make a difference rant" is getting far too dull. No one is forced into buying anything that they don't want or haven't seen or heard for themselves. Not all Dealers are the same, so if you feel that a Dealer is only out to rip you off then go elsewhere.
     
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  15. lordlemon

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    speaker Burn In dont take it from me look at eminent people like
    Alan Shaw Harbeth ,Rob Burnett , Ethan Winer they will all say its daft and the other side how believe well they have an angle good luck to them but just thank about it its my last word decide for yourself
     
  16. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon
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    Oh yeah, Alan, Bob and Ethan - the driving force of today's Home Cinema and Hi-Fi World!!

    But seriously, from the people that actually design and test them, it is a fact that speakers and subwoofers do need time to run in. Surely the creators are the ones who are in fact correct and it's everyone else who has some kind of angle. I would always go by what the person who designed and tested a product (before release) had to say, rather than some guy I've never heard of.
     
  17. lokyc

    lokyc
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    Its basic understanding of mechanical assemblies. Anything with moving parts, especially reciprocating components, need time to bed in.

    Of course, like anything, it can be used as an excuse to fob off unsatisfied customers. But that applies to everything. Like selling room treatments...
     
  18. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    It depends on what you mean by Burn In. If you mean a period in which you need to baby the speakers for fear of harming them, then no, they don't need that type if burn in.

    But speakers do not sound the same right out of the box as they do after a long period of use. This is evident if you have a pair of speakers for a couple of years, then need to replace one of the drivers. The new driver does not sound the same as the old driver because it does not have they same number of hours on it.

    When I last bought new speakers, I was completely disappointed in the bass right out of the box. Especially when the speakers had 2x 8" Bass drivers and were rated down to 28hz at -6dB. It took 200 hours to get them to sound normal.

    Now I'm sure you will say that I simply became used to them. The problem is, my old speakers are right there in place next to my new speakers, so I do have that old reference to go by. In fact, I listen to the old speakers at least once a week. So, I have not lost my previous frame of reference. The speaker absolutely did change over time. In the beginning the new speakers were bass weak relative to the old speakers, not they are bass strong relative to the old speakers. I could maybe give weight to the get used to it statement, if I didn't have the old speaker here as a reference.

    But at the same time, I used them right out of the box as I normally would, no need to abuse them, but no need to baby them either.

    Various speaker take various amounts of time. My speakers took 200 hours, other speakers only take 20 hours.

    Yes, I did consider the possibility that perhaps I had just become accustom to the speakers. But like I said, I still have my old speakers set up so I can compare them side-by-side. Further, the two speakers had different characteristics. The old speakers had a stronger presence in the Mid-range, and that did mean the new speakers took some getting used to. However, the aspect of the speaker that most notably
    broke in was not the midrange, it was the bass.

    The get used to it aspect is not wrong, but it certainly doesn't tell the whole story. Speaker do need to be run in ... depending on how you define 'run in'.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  19. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    The Great Gatsby .... At one point Florence (singer/soundtrack) is playing whilst a character is speaking. At the cinema both seemed to be at the same volume and completely intensified the scene. Tonight with my new speakers, Florence seemed to fade into the background and the scene was a bit meh.

    Sorry for previously straying off track. The movie you watched in the theater is not the same movie you watched at home. That is, in the theater, they are not playing the movie from a common DVD disk.

    What you are experiencing sounds to me like a form of Dynamic Range control or Compression. These type of sound control clamp down on the loud sounds which then allows mid-level sound to seem relatively louder. By limiting the peaks on louder sounds, mid-level sounds can be turned up without increasing the volume of louder sounds.

    If the singer and the speaker were relatively the same volume, that was likely a sound track, or a presentation that had more compression; background and foreground were close to the same level. In the second case where you were watching from a DVD Disk, it sounds like a sound track with less compression and more dynamic range, leaving a greater gap between foreground and background.

    They system you have should sound very good. The amp, for a mini, has more power than virtually any other mini-amp out there, and the speakers should be crystal clear with great presence.

    I still stand by my comments in my original post (#3) - verify speaker wiring, consider speaker position, break in time, and lastly room acoustics.

    As to room acoustics, visual inspection is the starting point, hard bare room mean poor acoustics, soft furnish, curtains, carpets, general clutter mean better acoustics. If you have a fair camera capable of making videos, try making a video in the room, preferably of a person talking. Then listen for echo or a hollowness to the sound. Frequently echo will appear on camera when it is not evident in the room to you ears.

    But at this stage, I'm guessing you are hearing a difference in the dynamic range or level of compression of the Theater vs your home system/movie. That is my best guess.

    Do others have any thoughts in this Dymanic Range/Compression theory?

    As to your system, it is not what I would have picked, but as that type of system goes, it should be among the best out there.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  20. twoeyedbob

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    Cant type a decent reply cos i'm using touchscreen :-(

    Difficult to know how a soundtrack behaves on a 2channel amp with no av pretensions.
    But i'd imagine(as you say blue) it would be a flatter experience.

    Imo the op is expecting too much from 2 standmounts (v nice ones) and no sub with acoustics also being a consideration.
    Imo ,Sub's give a presence that
    Speakers alone (let alone 2 standmounts) struggle to replicate.....
     
  21. lokyc

    lokyc
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    Sounds like driver overload. Its a 2-way speaker. Woofers have to do everything.

    Centre channel divides the work up.

    Also stresses the amp. If there are effects etc, even worse.

    Also got to do with the mixing. 5.1 content mixed into 2 channels. Something will be lost.

    Even in 4.1, a centre makes a lot of difference.

    Dynamic compression could make things better, i think. Don't use it much but useful for low volume listening at night. Think some ppl say helps make speech audible.
     
  22. johnjay

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    There have been a few instances where i was shocked by the sound of speakers right out of the box. Speaker run-in is an important part of getting your gear to sound right. Time varies on different speakers the strength of the rubber surrounds, cone material & general build etc.

    But instead of using a CD music relay media all-in-one, which imho is a mismatch for your speakers & i doubt your CD music system, even being a decent one as they go would even play your speakers at anything like they are capable of & also doubt a stereo signal from your amp on this model would induce any type of distortion due to sheer power.

    Just say if you could change your music system for even an entry level AV amp, say 5.1 channel, You would be an awful lot closer to your goal. You would need 2 more of the speakers you have now (or 2 floorstanders at front), a center speaker & a subwoofer.



    Of course there will be always someone that will tell you to buy one particular brand & no other, & judging by your budget you have spent on this system, you will at least be looking at an entry level AV amp & it would be great if you could keep adding to your Focals, that would be a great asset, for the rest of your speakers & a sub from say BK, like the XLS-200 or Gemini if the '200 is too steep. They are always on classifieds here...

    This is where you will stand on most movie Soundtracks using the system your using now... I know its prob great for CDs but if your looking for any type of movie atmosphere a new AV amp, a few more speakers & a sub is where you would at least have to start. & don't forget to budget for more stands if you were sticking to stand-mounts, although a nice pair of Focal floor-standing speakers will bring more scale & tonal range though & they look great too, & then cables banana plugs/spades etc...

    All of this is only a suggestion to get nearer the type of sound you are looking for, not a run-down of your Marantz hifi system which i would say is very capable in its particular field.:)
    ps even though a entry level avr say like a yamaha or onyko (or marantz) will be an immence difference, you would probably be looking to upgrade it eventually especially if you went the floorstander route.;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  23. Jota180

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    In my quest to find verifiable proof of all claims hifi related could you please share a link to somewhere where this test has been carried out? I'm building a small database of properly conducted tests across the hifi spectrum that remove the very real risk of subconscious influence.

    Thanks in advance. :)
     
  24. TheLethalOne

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    It got quiet quickly, in here.
     
  25. johnjay

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    Do you want to be the one that declares that speaker run-in time is needed as fact?
    I'm definitely of the opinion that run-in time, esp. regarding speakers is imperative regarding system matching. So if having a demo, it would be a good idea to make sure they have had a run-in period first...Readily adhered to, by most who know what they are looking for i'm sure.:)
     
  26. Jota180

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    I can understand why that would be the case since speakers have moving parts. Cables, isolation pucks and the likes, I'm less certain about.
    How difficult is it for a HIFI magazine to run a proper blind test and if these things do make a significant difference it should be easily verified. Removing the risk of subconscious influence and the placebo effect is the standard in any proper testing.
     
  27. lokyc

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    But Hifi magazines are not peer reviewed journals. They have little reason to do these tests and at any rate heir tests will always be open to question.

    It is something that we as independants could set up. A genuine proper test would need a number of testers, test conditions and stats.

    Anything else and the results can be challenged.
     
  28. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Most of us can say from experience that speakers mellow over time, and take time to reach their final sound. Now some will say, you just forget about your old speaker and get used to the new one. A fair point, but I still have my old speakers, speakers I listened to for a couple of decades, so I can compare side-by-side. My Wharfedale took about 200 hours before I was satisfied with the bass.

    I don't need a scientist to tell me what I plainly know from experience.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  29. Alan Mac

    Alan Mac
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    I doubt if it would be possible to devise a subjective test to establish if loudspeaker “run in” is a reality. The human listener’s hearing is likely to vary far more than the loudspeaker’s transfer function over the time required for the test.

    However it should be possible, using only instrumentation, to compare the loudspeaker’s response before and after the “run in” period. The environment (temperature, humidity and positioning etc.) would need to be kept very stable and a dedicated undisturbed anechoic chamber would be desirable.


    Alan
     
  30. AngelEyes

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    Speakers absolutely do change over time but not quite as much as people may have been making out. What tends to happen is the stiffness of the driver suspension loosens up a bit over time, a bit like a balloon loosens up the more you work it, it is easier to blow up once you have stretched it and warmed it up (simplistic analogy I know but...). Because this is most prominent in bass drivers it is very obvious in subwoofers as they measurably get louder as they lose their initial stiffness.

    It is pretty easy to test if a speaker is run in or not, simply measure the SPL at a fixed output on the day you buy it and again after a month or two of running it. I have measured several dB increase in bass output of subwoofers over a few weeks.

    Speakers with smaller drivers I am less convinced that there would be a big difference but can accept it does occur. As the tweeter is probably less susceptible to this affect, run-in might lead to a warmer sound as the bass volume increases compared to the treble.

    FWIW I am not at all convinced about run-in of electronic components with no moving parts. :laugh:

    Back to the OP, I would be looking at things like Dynamic Range Compression or 'Night Mode' type effects. Assuming the TV is outputing sound to the Amp I would want to know what processing is going on taking the 5.1 soundtrack down to stereo. Once those kinds of things are eliminated, move on to setup etc.

    Adam :)
     

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