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Help! Downsized speakers: What should I expect?


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#1 of 12 Dave Hahn

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Posted December 15 2004 - 07:42 AM

I just finished upgrading my entire home theater. The last step was to give up my beloved, (but very large) Acoustic Research speakers for small bookshelves and a sub.

The Acoustic Research speakers were:

Mains: AR 312 HO – 44” x 10 ½” x 22” Tower Speakers: 1” Aerofoam Dome Tweeter, Dual 5 1/4” Midrange Drivers, 12” Long Throw Woofer . Frequency Response: 30Hz – 20KHz +/- 2 db. Sensitivity: 97 db @ 2.83 Volts/Meter. Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms. Power Rating: 25 – 250 Watts RMS.

Center Channel: CS 25 HO: 8” x 19” x 7” Center Speaker: 1” Aerofoam Dome Tweeter, Dual 5 1/4” Midrange Drivers. Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20KHz +/- 2 db. Sensitivity: 94 db @ 2.83 Volts/Meter. Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms. Power Rating: 25 – 200 Watts RMS.

Rears: AR 308 HO - 19” x 8” x 12” Bookshelf Speakers: 1” Aerofoam Dome Tweeter, 5 1/4” Midrange Driver. 8” Long Throw Woofer. Frequency Response: 40Hz – 20KHz +/- 2 db. Sensitivity: 92 db @ 2.83 Volts/Meter. Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms. Power Rating: 25 – 200 Watts RMS.


The new speakers, Onix ELT LRS's are:

Mains:
* LRS Satellites - 2-Way, 2-Driver, rear-ported enclosure.
* Drivers: custom 5.25" long-throw aluminum cone woofers, hybrid silk-suspended alloy dome tweeter
* Crossover Point: 3.8 kHz
* Frequency Response: 65 Hz to 20 KHz (± 3 dB)
* Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal
* Efficiency: 89 dB (@ 1 watt / 1 meter)
* Power Rating: 25-150 Watts power handling
* Dimensions: 11.5" H x 6.75" D x 7.5” W

Center:
* System: 3-Way, 4-Driver, rear-ported enclosure.
* Drivers: custom 5.25" long-throw aluminum cone woofers, custom 2.5” paper composite midrange, hybrid silk-suspended alloy dome tweeter.
* Frequency Response: 60 Hz to 20 KHz (± 3 dB)
* Impedance: 6 Ohms nominal.
* Efficiency: 87 dB (@ 1 watt / 1 meter)
* Power Rating: 25-150 Watts
* Dimensions: 7.75" H x 6.75" D x 20” W

The sub is the new SVS PB10-ISD


I'm driving them with a Denon AVR 2805.

I have to say I don't like the new speaker upgrade. I know that the new speakers need to "break in." I also know that small bookshelf speakers aren't going to deliver like my old towers, especially because the book shelf's lack a mid-range driver. I even realize that any other brand of speaker is going to sound different from Acoustic Research.

That being said, I was expecting better. The speakers are fine for home theater, they aren't very good at all for music. I don't have very good language for this, but they sound a little "muddied" and I think I'm getting the "fish bowl effect." On top of that, the auto-EQ set-up on the Denon 2805 really brought out the best in my AR's. The Onix ELT's sound much better with the EQ set to OFF.

Am I expecting too much? Will anything in this price range, ($100 to $150 per speaker), match the sound I was getting from my AR's, or is this common and unavoidable?

Thanks,
Dave
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#2 of 12 Chris Quinn

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Posted December 15 2004 - 08:34 AM

You replaced some nice speakers with less expensive but good value speakers that just aren't in the same category as your ARs.

Are you in your 30 day trial period? If so, maybe you should send them back and shop around for something more pleasing to you.

If your comfortable with net direct. Axiom and Ascend Acoustics are considered among the more detailed consumer direct speakers.

#3 of 12 Mike^C

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Posted December 15 2004 - 06:28 PM

The thing with any Rocket speaker is that they are voiced to have that "fish bowl" effect. That is, they tend to be less bright than alot of brands out there. Its not a flaw, but purposely designed this way. The fact of the matter is, there just aren't that mass manufacturered speaker makers that have this type of sound. You either like it or hate it. They do grow on you however. I have a pair of Rocket RS150 bookshelves in my bedroom and after a week or so, I prefered their sound for music playing over my bigger Paradigms in the living room.

Opponents of this sound typically characterize it as "hollow sounding and muddy" while the opposite sound is "detailed and forward."

Proponents call it "smooth and laid back" while the opposite tuning would be thought of as "bright, fatiguing, shrill."

If your looking for a brighter, more forward brand, I'd sell or return the ELT's for Axiom M22s or Ascend CBMs.

#4 of 12 Dave Hahn

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Posted December 16 2004 - 08:16 AM

Chris and Mike,

Thanks for the info and advice.
Quote:
Are you in your 30 day trial period?
Yes, I just received these speakers and have 25+ days to return them. I'm still going to give them a shot. For a few days I'm going to let them play all day while I'm at work to hasten the break-in period
Quote:
Proponents call it "smooth and laid back" while the opposite tuning would be thought of as "bright, fatiguing, shrill."
This is why I went with Onix. I had read much the same thing on several forums, that they were "warm," "smooth," and "laid back." I wanted to stay away from "bright" speakers which can be, as you said, "bright, fatiguing, and shrill." I guess the ELT LRS's are just a little too laid back. I want the best of both worlds, I want my speakers to be both "warm" and "detailed."

Sooooooooo, I want to try to demo a pair of Ascend CBM-170's and a pair of comparable Axiom's.

Ascend will allow me to purchase a pair of CBM-170's and will give me a full system discount if I keep them and buy a center and surrounds from them.

Axiom will not. On top of that, Axiom would expect me to pay shipping, (like Ascend), but clearly state that if I return the speakers within their "30 day money back guarantee period," I'd also have to pay any "brokerage fees," whatever the hell that means. So much for our friendly neighbors up north. Posted Image

I may end up trying out the Ascend and some Polks or JBL's.
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#5 of 12 Chris Quinn

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Posted December 16 2004 - 08:27 AM

The Ascend 170 is more laid back than Axiom M22.

#6 of 12 Wayne Ernst

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Posted December 16 2004 - 08:40 AM

Quote:
Axiom would expect me to pay shipping, (like Ascend), but clearly state that if I return the speakers within their "30 day money back guarantee period," I'd also have to pay any "brokerage fees," whatever the hell that means. So much for our friendly neighbors up north.

I thought the Axiom speakers were shipped out of Buffalo - or somewhere in NY to get around some of the issues with the brokerage fees. No?
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#7 of 12 Mike^C

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Posted December 16 2004 - 06:55 PM

Quote:
" I guess the ELT LRS's are just a little too laid back. I want the best of both worlds, I want my speakers to be both "warm" and "detailed."


And the LRS's are probably the most forward of all Rocket speakers. The main Rocket line is even MORE laid back if you can believe it! Actually, I find the amount of detail that Rockets have are as good or better than most brighter more well known speakers I've heard. The difference being that they are not as emphasized on Rocket speakers. After listening and auditioning alot of speakers, I found the whole "neutral sound" comment to be a load. Any decent speaker will be close to neutral but there will always be *some* characteristic coloration depending on the designer of the speakers in question. Whereas the Rockets are warmer (slightly less treble energy), my Paradigm Monitors are a bit brighter , and Axioms seems to be a bit brighter than that according to reviews.

Just to throw another thing into your head, if you are dead set for accurate studio sound, I recommend the Mackie HR-824s. These are considered to be some of the best studio monitors available. Of course you'll pay in terms of how small the sweet spot is. Its made for a small area. The Mackies are better than alot of studio monitors in this area though.. it has a decent size sweet spot, but nowhere close to a full size hifi speaker. To top it off, they are active monitors with their own amps so you don't need your own amp. Where more accurate a sound can you get than with the speakers so many producers actually use in their studios?

#8 of 12 greg baker

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Posted December 17 2004 - 12:12 PM

I went from some 20 year old advents with 10 inch woofers and a soft dome tweeter to JBl 26 II's and a JBL PB10 sub. I have found the setup great for ht but I have been dissapointed for music. Something just seems like it is missing. Could be the midrange. They just seem thin compared to floorstanders

#9 of 12 David_D

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Posted December 18 2004 - 06:23 PM

OK, I don't mind looking stupid. (I've had plenty of practice...) What is the "fish bowl" effect? I don't know what that means.

#10 of 12 Jon W.

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Posted December 18 2004 - 08:41 PM

If you want "detailed" bookshelfs listen to NHT. They probably cost twice as much (just guessing here) but man are they accurate sounding. Of course this is only my opinion.Posted Image

#11 of 12 Dave Hahn

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Posted December 20 2004 - 02:05 AM

Well, I pulled the trigger on a set of Ascend speakers: CBM-170's for mains, CMT-340c for a center, and three HTM-200's for rear surrounds. I'm really hoping that these sound better then the Onix speakers.

I've put approx. 72 hours of playing time on the Onix ELT LRS's and although they do sound a wee bit better, they're still not to my liking. As I said earlier, they are fine for home theater but are lacking for music.

I've been listening to the Beatles for 30+ years, (since I was a toddler Posted Image); they are my favorite group and I use their albums as test material when auditioning gear. Using the CD of Let It Be as an example, on the title track Paul's voice should be very musical, rounded, and somewhat forward in the soundstage. The problem is, the Onix speakers are so muddied Paul's voice is so muffled it's difficult to tell whether it's Paul or John singing. Posted Image
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#12 of 12 Jimi C

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Posted December 20 2004 - 03:43 AM

Quote:
I thought the Axiom speakers were shipped out of Buffalo - or somewhere in NY to get around some of the issues with the brokerage fees. No?


You may be thinking of Fluance.
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