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"Upgrade" from GR-Research A/V-1s


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61 replies to this topic

#1 of 62 Yousaf

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Posted March 21 2004 - 12:12 AM

First off, let me say that I love my A/V-1s. I used to own a Velodyne SPL-1000 sub which was pretty darned good in its own right, but when I had people over to listen to my system (whose other experiences were limited to high-end computer speakers and maybe entry-level bookshelves), they thought the sub was good but the speakers were AWESOME. And I have to admit, they are. Voices just sound so perfect, and I know this is going to sound like I've been smoking something, but on the right recordings of acoustic guitar it sounds like someone is strumming the speaker. I can't explain past that, but they're great.

The obvious question, then, is why am I looking to move on? Knowing audiophiles' penchant towards visually and emotionally stimulating descriptions of sound attributes, allow me to phrase my response as so: while the A/V-1s would be said to punch me in the gut and maybe cause regurgitation from time to time on good days, I'm looking for something that will provide repeated swift kicks to the genatalia and keep me on the floor whimpering in pain. I want a sharper, biting, more aggressive sound. I often listen at low volumes since I live in an apartment with others and have been becoming increasingly nocturnal. The A/V-1's sound is a bit more subdued; voices tend to be put a little farther back in the sound stage and the speakers need to be turned up louder to enjoy a more immediate sound. In fact, it's like getting louder not only adjusts the volume but also the overall sound characteristics of the speakers, and that's something I don't know if I can have.

My quest for more aggressive speakers have led me to three candidates: the Green Mountain Audio Europas, the Quad 12Ls, and the Coincident Technology Triumph Signature. I will go ahead and say right now that I have not had a chance to hear any of them, and doubt I will be able to. Taking blind steps into the unknown is just so exhilarating Posted Image Posted Image The things that these speakers seem to all stress are simple crossovers, extension past 20 kHz, and phase or time coherency. Now an in-detail look at each speaker:


Europa
This is the big brute of the bunch. I don't particularly like the size but if the sound works, I'll take it. All reviews have said how these speakers are simply exceptional. I really want to hear all of the details in the recording, and these speakers present themselves as being very clear and free of any smearing to color the sound. Additionally, many people praise their low-volume sound as well. Low bass is noted to be good, so on "lighter" music I don't even need to use a sub. Overall, the sound should be ultra-clear and crisp, exactly what I want. People have said they sound almost electrostaty (if that's even a word). My main worry, however, is that it is a 4 Ohm speaker. I use a Sony AVD-S50ES receiver/SACD player with digital amps; it sounds good but I don't know if it can take the 4 Ohm load. I have heard that digital amps are particularly picky about being played into low impedence speakers, but don't know if there is actually any truth in that. The last thing I'd like is for me to be rocking out on my new speakers only to have my receiver explode.


Quad 12L
These have also been noted to have a certain electrostat-like sound. They are supposed to be very clean and clear, and provide some reasonable bass as well. I've been going through some reviews but haven't seen much about low-volume performance, but the speaker (and it's smaller sibling, the 11L) have garnered a good deal of praise and have even won an award here or there. Whatever, I don't get too hung up on that kind of stuff but it says something. I also love the size and looks of the speaker, not really larger than my current A/V-1s and the shiny finish would go really well with the glossy sub I'm getting in this month...and even though the rosewood probably won't match my sub, at least it will be more comparable than the marble Europas. These speakers present a 6 Ohm impedence, which, conveniently, is what my receiver is rated at so I know that it won't die. Additionally, my available power is much closer to the maximum susatinable power of these speakers so I think I won't feel as much of a need to upgrade my receiver afterwards.


Triumph Signatures
These speakers more or less came out of nowhere. I just saw someone mention the name in another thread, and knowing that I hadn't heard of them, I decided to investigate. All reviews of this speaker seem to be very positive; one of the things that I like, in fact, is that everyone describes them as being very neutral and just allowing the music through without imparting any real tone of their own. It helps that they are 8 Ohm speakers, and with a tremendous sensitivity, I will be able to play them at high levels with minimal amplifier effort...I won't feel as though I am going to break anything, which is always comforting Posted Image They are a little bigger than the Quad and the finish won't be glossy, but they're a nice looking speaker as well. It seems like such a high sensitivity speaker will have to have a more forward presentation. Finally, the frequency response extends to 25 kHz, which bodes well for it's ability to lend a bit more air to those higher frequency tones. While they aren't marble speakers, I like Coincident's theory on box design...and it's built like a brick.


Comign back together, I much prefer the prices on the 12Ls and Europas over the Triumph. The 12Ls pop up used on Audiogon frequently enough that I can pick them up for $700-800, and the Europas go for $880. The Coincident's would hurt at $1300 and I wouldn't be able to get them for some time. I like that the Europas and Coincidents are very sturdy speakers, but of course weight doesn't mean very much. I guess what I'm looking for now is a bit more guidance...am I looking in the right directions for what I want? Is there anything else I should maybe investigate? I do want ribbons, but I think they're just out of my price range so I'll most likely stick to the "electrostatic-like" speakers.

Also, I realize that my selections are somewhat receiver limited. For what it's worth, I think that a good deal of people who have listened to the receiver have found it capable of sound quality exceeding its price point, so I'm not exactly mating great speakers with junk electronics. I would like to just not have to worry about low impedence loads but as a student I tend to live in small rooms and cannot stand sharing one with a receiver or amp that puts out a great deal of heat. After all, if I'm excruciatingly uncomfortable physically how can I enjoy the music? Thus, it seems as though my receiver or some receiver will need to be here with me to stay for some time. Selling it is just not an option even though it would probably simplify things...sorry.

Kudos to anyone who has made it this far, and sorry for the huge post. I'm just so bad at making decisions I really do tend to need to have other people pick my gear out for me Posted Image Oh well.



On a side note, I have a Rutledge Audio Design 12" sub on order. I was previously considering going servo but became convinced that something like an XBL2 driver would do a great job limiting distortion while at the same time not severely clamping down on output down low. I think that it will make a pretty good match to the above speakers, so I'm really looking forward to all this coming together.

#2 of 62 Yousaf

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Posted March 21 2004 - 12:33 AM

I might need to add one other thing...part of the reason I'm looking to upgrade is that I soldered the crossovers myself, used older design boxes, and am just really afraid I did something wrong. I don't particularly trust myself (even though the speakers sound great), I guess, especially on my first try at something. Maybe I'm just looking for the psychological satisfaction of knowing that my speakers were completely professionally made and that they are the best they can be. A cheap(er) fix for this might just be to send the speakers back to Danny Richie, have him measure the response for my peace of mind, maybe have him throw in a T2 tweeter and tip the top end up a bit with a lower value resistor...I guess I'll have to talk to him sometime then and see what he thinks.

#3 of 62 Wayne Ernst

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Posted March 21 2004 - 01:52 AM

Yousaf,

Thanks for starting this thread. I really like the looks of the Triumph and the Quads. Very nice ... indeed. I also noticed the sensitivity rating on the Triumph speakers - 94dB. That's getting up there in Klipsch territory. Posted Image

Also, please be sure to post some sort of review when you get your 12" XBL-Equipped sub from Brian of Rutledge. I can't wait to hear more comments on those subs - very nice driver (thanks Adire) and very nice cabinet work on RAD's part, too.
"My reality check ... just bounced"

#4 of 62 Michael R Price

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Posted March 21 2004 - 01:55 AM

Can you stand a tower speaker? And are you willing to do DIY again?

#5 of 62 John Garcia

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Posted March 21 2004 - 02:25 AM

Just so I know, what configuration are your A/V-1s? Do you have all the latest parts and all the upgrades - black hole, Sonicaps, T2 tweeters, updated midbass? Which cabinets; RAD or some other? IMO, the biggest improvement for my A/V-2s were the Sonicaps. The T2 tweeters are also even cleaner than the first gen ones. IMO, none of these will make it a consideratbly more agressive speaker though. What finish do they have...you may not need to look so far for a buyer Posted Image
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

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#6 of 62 Rudi B

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Posted March 21 2004 - 06:16 AM

Use the "Treble" knob thingy on your receiver/amp. Posted Image

FWIW, my AV2s sing just like they should, even with metal & rock. Posted Image

#7 of 62 Yousaf

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Posted March 21 2004 - 09:35 AM

Wayne:
Will do on the review, if only to get some publicity for Brian's subs too. It seems like everyone tends to recommend SVS and Hsu cylinders and boxes, and while they are excellent, they are also bigger than some would like. At least from the looks of it, Brian's subs seem to compete favorably size-wise with more traditional retail offerings, and should outperform most in a similar price range. I guess we'll see Posted Image


Michael:
In-room, a tower is fine. However, I'm a college student and so I move my speakers several times a year. Towers would not only be harder to move but there's a much greater chance of them getting damaged in the process.

As for DIY, I would look into kits but I'd have someone who really knows what they're doing build it for me. I realize that takes away some of the value of going DIY, but I'd really like to have a professionally-made speaker.

Hmmm...you mention DIY and tower, and you know I want a more forward, aggressive speaker. Any chance that you were thinking of the Adire Kit281s? Posted Image


John:
I have the Black Hole 5, Sonicaps, updated midbass, but only the T1 tweeter. The cabinets would be considered "other". They were actually made some time ago when Danny made speakers for retail companies, and the speakers needed to be placed "upside-down" - tweeter on bottom and woofer on top. I bought these knowing that they were not shielded, and so planned on just getting some shielded midbasses, but ended up going all out and did all the upgrades possible at the time. I don't know wood finishes that well, so I'll stick with the official description: black oak gloss. To me, gloss means piano-finish gloss so this seems more like like a semi-gloss...you can see some reflection if you try but it's not obvious.

There are then 3 issues with the cabinets: the first is that since the old bottom is now the top, the top has a few marks from being stand-mounted. The other is that the port is now on the bottom and the binding posts on top; I discussed this at length with Danny and he assured me it would not affect the sound of the speaker. Also, the posts aren't so high that with 12 guage wire you'll see any wire above the speaker, so everything is still hidden just fine but I wouldn't want to cause any surprises Posted Image. Finally, at the time Danny was not using the magnetic grilles, so these speakers have a normal push-on grille that I pretty much just leave off when they're not being moved around.

If I haven't scared you off yet, feel free to email me at malhance@uiuc.edu . I know the issues with my speakers, and plan on pricing them a little more aggressively.


Rudi:
I actually haven't found the tone controls on my receiver yet, but I don't know if that would even help. I guess ym "upgrading the A/V-1" possibility was just a bit dumb because I want to do more than just tip up the treble...I want a more extended treble and a more forward presentation, which I doubt can be accomplished by changing a resistor. We all say stupid things at times...unfortunately, I think I do it more often than others Posted Image Posted Image

I do think that my A/V-1s sing great on rock, and while I do listen to a good deal of it, I'm looking to get a better presentation on lighter material as well. I want to life the proverbial veil Posted Image Actually, that sounds bad because there really isn't a veiled sound to the speakers, but I just want everything to be a bit more forward.

#8 of 62 Michael R Price

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Posted March 21 2004 - 11:06 AM

I was not specifically thinking of Kit 281s, but I own a pair of those, and they might be the kind of speaker you're looking for. In short, they rock. Since you seem to have a bit more than $500, you could also consider the MTM with M8as and the XT25 tweeter, which is probably a lot more refined (see the HTGuide DIY forum). I plan to take the 281s to college next year, which shouldn't be too hard since they have a small footprint.

Anyway, I'm sorry I can't help you too much with non DIY options. Posted Image All I can say is, one of my friends has Klipsch RB-5s which are nice little speakers for rock and classical music. I don't like them as much as my speakers, but if you can compensate for their total lack of bass, they work pretty well.

#9 of 62 Yousaf

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Posted March 21 2004 - 01:26 PM

Well, you tried and I appreciate that. The Coincident speakers I mentioned above were actually my more refined and expensive option than any Klipsch bookshelves, which explains my interest in them. I just don't think I can handle floorstanders, unless they are something like the Odyssee Circes. Those would be easy to pack and move around, and I wouldn't have to worry about damage. Actually, a person on another forum recommended the Odyssee Epiphonys to me. He included a review, and while I could appreciate the huge soundstage, very accurate imaging, and treble extension, they fell short in presentation as far as I am concerned (he likened the experience to sitting in the back rows of a concert) and a slightly veiled midrange. I think I really do want extreme clarity and accuracy, even if it is at the expense of the ability of the speakers to be forgiving.

To me, more interesting than the Epiphonys are the Circes, due not only to their extremely small footprint but their significantly higher sensitivity as well. Does anyone have any opinions on these? The red cherry/mahogany finish is particularly appealing as that is how my subwoofer is being done.

#10 of 62 BrianAe

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Posted March 21 2004 - 01:53 PM

Yousaf,

You've given a great description of what your looking for. I think I have fairly similar taste in speakers. I have a few comments:

1) Your experience with the AV-1s sound changing as you turn them up in volume is not uncommon. You should also note that it doesn't neccessarily have to do with how deep the sound stage is in the speakers. I recently listened to some dynaudio speakers that I thought I would like but didn't. They were very upfront/first row sounding but really had to be cranked up to sound detailed.

2) I also read a review of the odyssey monitors (at TNT audio) and posted hear asking for more comments. I got none. I am very interested in hearing what others think of them and the new center odyssey center channel.

3) You should check out the ACI (www.audioc.com) emeralds and saphires. You might also want to check out the Energy Veritas 2.2i monitors.

In any case, keep us posted.

-- B

#11 of 62 CurtisSC

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Posted March 21 2004 - 03:46 PM

Here is a thread that compares the Epiphony's to the Ascend CMT-340.

I have heard the GR AV/2's and ACI Sapphires in my system together for a period of a week(I actually got to demo the Sapphires for a long time). Both very nice speakers. As for the highs, the Sapphires were nicer IMO. I felt both were a bit forgiving or "polite" for my tastes.
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#12 of 62 David*RT

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Posted March 21 2004 - 04:44 PM

Odyssey Epiphony:

http://www.tnt-audio...epiphony_e.html

The reviewer ended up buying the demo pair.

#13 of 62 Chris Tsutsui

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Posted March 21 2004 - 05:40 PM

A few DIY speakers come to mind that IMO will be a significant upgrade from topped out AV-1s.

Thor T-line with Seas Excel towers. (Madisound sells them)

LinkwitzLab Orion or Phoenix Dipole speakers also with Seas Excel drivers.

The reviews for these have been nothing but good, and are definitely contenders in the high end audio spectrum.


#14 of 62 Yousaf

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Posted March 21 2004 - 06:33 PM

Brian:
I realize that changing sound doesn't really effect sound stage depth, I must have just put those together accidentally when I was writing. I was referring to the fact that the A/V-1s just don't comealaive until you turn up the volume, and that I wanted something that would just sound a bit better at low volumes. The deep sound stage is a different issue Posted Image

I think that Sapphires would be better upgrades than Emeralds, and I just can't afford Sapphires. Out of curiosity, since you say we have similar tastes, what is it that you own?


Curtis:
Thanks for posting in both threads Posted Image I did consider A/V-2s but realied they probably sound very similar to the A/V-1s (too polite, as you said, which I think is a good way of putting it). Sapphires are out of my price range. I doubt I'd do the Ascends because I do want something that looks a bit nicer, and now I have two reviews showing me that while the Epiphanys are just awesome speakers, they are probably not quite what I am looking for. I do want a more forward, engaging speaker, so I'll need to call Kraus from Odyssey Audio and have him give me the rundown on the Circes.


David:
Same as above.


Chris:
Considering I don't want to build the speakers myself and would need someone else to do the work, I just don't have the money to go with either of those. I could if I would but I can't, unfortunately. Both are also towers, which I have an aversion to.




I've been doing some deep thinking for a while now. I was told on another forum that the Quad 12L probably isn't what I'm looking for because it is actually a bit "darker". The Epiphany, despite some of it's VERY attractive features, doesn't seem like it will give me the presentation I desire. The Coincident was a real reach speaker to begin with and I think I'll need to toss it out for price reasons...there goes the ultimate in volume.

Now, I really think I might prefer the Europa, provided I get some support ensuring me that my receiver can handle the speaker at anything less than insane volume levels. The Odyssey Circe is also a definite contender, but considering the lack of discussion on it, I'll have to wait to judge it until I can talk to Kraus. I hate to say this, but are there other speakers I should be listening to?

#15 of 62 CurtisSC

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Posted March 22 2004 - 03:16 AM

Quote:
I doubt I'd do the Ascends because I do want something that looks a bit nicer.....


Totally understood. If it makes a difference, apparently you can order the Ascends painted in a high quality automotive grade finish. You can also get them in unfinished MDF and finish them yourself.

It will be very interesting in what you end up with....so keep us posted.
curtis
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#16 of 62 David*RT

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Posted March 22 2004 - 05:10 AM

Another suggestion aside of Odyssey: EFE.

EFE is a little known company that have received HUGE raves. They are very dynamic and forward and live sounding. While their prices are great and compete directly with speakers sevral times thier price point, Ed "the Crossover MASTER" Frias of EFE will not give a 30 day money back guarantee.

If they're bought and you end up not liking them, then you will have to Audiogon.com or Ebay them. The chances that you end up not liking them are close to nil however. I've emailed dozens of users and they ALL give their HIGHEST recommendations. I could not find ONE user that was not absolutely estactic about them......see for yourself and email the reviewers at the reviews link below.

Reviews

PICS


Ed doesn't have a website, but here's his contact info. He'll email you pics and will answer any question until your brain bursts. In other words, he's a really nice guy to do business with. Posted Image

ED FRIAS ENTERPRISES
668 W Lee Blvd
Prescott, AZ 86303
928-778-2616
efespeakers@commspeed.net

#17 of 62 Brian Bunge

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Posted March 22 2004 - 09:58 AM

Yousaf,

Since you've mentioned me and the sub several times I thought I'd post here too. I think you've said what you're looking for but just to be clear I'd like to ask a more direct question.

Would you be happier with the A/V-1's if they just were more agressive on the high end?

I ask this because it shouldn't be a problem having Danny modify the tweeter network to achieve that goal. Also, IMHO, the A/V-2's are a bit more forward than the A/V-1's. I've owned both and definitely prefer the A/V-2's. John Garcia now owns my personal pair of Cherry A/V-2's and I know he's heard A/V-1's. Maybe he can comment on what he feels are the similarities and differences between the A/V-1's and A/V-2's. Another plus is that I have enough cherry veneer left from your sub to build you matching cabinets for the A/V-2's. Posted Image

Also, I'm very familiar with the ACI Emeralds as had built several pairs of them back when they were available as kits. They are definitely a bit more agressive on the top end than the A/V-1's and A/V-2's. Both sound great; just different.
Brian Bunge
RAD Home Theater

#18 of 62 John Garcia

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Posted March 22 2004 - 12:09 PM

I'm not sure if I'm scared off of the 1s yet, but we can talk about price Posted Image I believe I know the cabinets you are speaking of, and I have seen them in person before.

There are differences between the A/V-1s and 2s, though I believe Yousaf's thought that they will sound quite similar is correct. I have found that the 2s are able to excite the room a lot more effortlessly, but the overall timbre of the two is still nearly identical though.

I may have missed it, but what are/will you be powering them with? I have really found that the A/V-2s like as much power as you can give them, and they sound better when being pushed harder. I'm sure this is likely why Danny recommends/prefers tube amps with these (probably all of his) speakers. I'm certain he could provide you with a network that could tweak the speaker to your taste, but I understand where you are coming from. I prefer the smooth, almost laid back nature of the A/V-1s and -2s. Have you ever heard the Paradox (discontinued)? More foreward highs with a titanium tweeter, yet still smooth.

Have you considered GR's Diluceos or Criterions?

Brian, how about the SEAS based kit similar to the Joseph RM7Si you mentioned to me sometime back? That might be another kit to consider.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#19 of 62 Michael R Price

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Posted March 22 2004 - 12:23 PM

John,

"I have really found that the A/V-2s like as much power as you can give them, and they sound better when being pushed harder."

I don't think I heard the same speaker at DIY 2003. Posted Image

#20 of 62 Brian Bunge

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Posted March 22 2004 - 12:24 PM

John,

I never got around to building the Seas based kit but I'm still intrigued by it.
Brian Bunge
RAD Home Theater