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Rocket 750 Review....


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#1 of 24 DaViD Boulet

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Posted September 23 2002 - 01:49 AM

Check out Mike's Review here:

http://www.hometheat....s/rockets.html

And below is my own review that I recently posted over at AVS. I encourage anyone interested in purchasing new HT speakers that have truly audiophile-music capability without breaking their budget to read both reviews, trust the reviews...and give these speakers an audition (av123.com has a 30 day in-home trial).

My review:

I've been living with the Rocket 750s for about 3 weeks now.

Who am I?

First of all let me tell you a little about my audio history. I'm not a college kid making my first speaker purchase and hooking my 750's up to my best-buy Onkyo receiver (no disrespect to those of you who fit this description...just trying to share another perspective here). I'm a 31 yr old audiophile who's spent some time with the best equipment out there. Nope, not rich...I got to *work* with it Posted Image

I got turned on to audio when I was in college and I went over to my "eccentric" friend's house where he had a tube amplifier and a high-end turntable (no CD player). I thought "how quaint, I'll just listen to be nice and polite not to hurt his feelings about this old technology" and then was utterly blown away by the astonishing sounds that poured out of his (B&W matrix) speakers.

That's when I learned that specs aren't the final word, that it takes some work to make "transistors" sound like the real thing, that LPs can blow the socks off of most CD recordings, and I learned what a "holographic soundstage with lush and liquid midrange" means.

I worked for about 2 years at Soundex in Willow Grove PA. I got to listen to Apogee Ribbons, Krell, Levinson, Audio Research and Aragon amps through speakers of all kinds: Reference Dynaudio (their $300,000.00 flagship) systems, the best Genesis speakers, Wilson speakers, Proac Speakers, Dunlavy, B&W speakers...you get the idea. Tubes, Solid State, LP/CD. Heard it all (and got to install it all...you've never had fun until you've had the chance to install a pair of $125,000.00 Genesis speakers and help calibrate them in someone's home).

I'm also well aware of what good analog or 20-bit+ can sound like on good gear (and how much better it can sound than 16/44.1 CD). Yes...I even know what a difference cables can make Posted Image And I've got an anti-jitter filter in the path to my outboard D/A...which is my loved Audio Alchemy DTI Pro32/3.0 DAC combo.

Ok...so now you know a little about my listening history. Why did I waste so much time telling you all this? Am I lonely? Need make sure that this speaker review is *all about me*? Nope. Just want to let you know that when I say that the Rocket 750s are the best sounding speakers I've heard compared to many others selling for more than twice their cost...that I know what I'm talking about Posted Image

My System

I'm a poor soul like many others of you out there...so my problem has always been that I got to play with the big-boys and listen to the best-of-the-best working at Soundex, but that after delivering a pair of statement Dynaudio speakers I ended up going home to my stereo where I couldn't even afford surround-sound for my HT and listened to everything in stereo-mix down. Knowing what the good stuff sounded like...I could never break down and get the "receiver" I could afford...I preferred to hear "ok" 2-channel sound and dream of the Proceed or Krell decoder I'd one-day own.

For me...the breaking point came when B&K came out with their AVR202 receiver. It sounded *better* than their decoder/100Wx5 amp combo, and I was in love. B&K, for those of you who don't know, does not sound "transistor" at all. When I say I have a "receiver" for music listening audiophile's shudder within a 10 mile radius...but really...if you close your eyes and listen the B&K is actually a rather dark, lush, and 3-dimensional sound. Solid bottom end and non-fatigueing highs. Great on resolution and refined sound but a little more laid-back and veiled than the better gear (where my next purchase will take me).

So that's my "amp"...my AVR202 by B&K. for 2-channel stereo I use my DTI Pro32/3.0 DAC combo by Audio Alchemy. I'm sure there are newer DACs and resolution-enhancers out there that sound better today, but I'm getting by for now. The sound of the digital front end tends to "round out" the sound of CD and makes 16/44.1 sources sound quite listenable. Right now I'm actually leaving the dither setting off on the Pro32 and using it just as a jitter filter. For some reason, I like the sound of the unprocessed 16-bit sound via the Rockets more than the 18 or 20 bit dither (which smoothes out the highs a bit, but at the expense of air and "openness"). Like I said...looking forward to upgrading the digital front end some day...or will a digital amp make that unnecessary? Posted Image

I'm using some sort of high-end Tara speaker wire that has "flat" copper extruded conductors. It sounds a bit brighter than the Transparent audio speaker cables I've heard but hey...it's what I have now. I'll play with cables down the road after I upgrade the rest of the system (no flames please...I *know* what a difference cables can make so just let me be happy in peace).

The speakers I have had in my system have been Signet 260 (bookshelf), Dalquist (can't remember the model #), Vanderstein 2Cs, Dynaudio Contour 1.8, Final .3 electrostatics (think of Martin Logan only with a more lush high-end and better integrated bass driver)...and now the Rocket 750s.

Ok...so are we ready for that review or what? Will this guy just shut up and get to the review! Duh!

Rocket 750 Sound

I haven't been this excited about audio since my first "high end" purchase of the Signet 260 bookshelf speakers. I'll never forget how those speakers opened up a whole world of imaging, sound staging, and resolution that made all my recordings an adventure of discovery. Those speakers revealed every improvement in the system with shocking clarity...new interconnects...Audio Alchemy d/a converter...various amplifiers.

Now I've found a new set of speakers that for the first time give me the thrill of "sound that breathes" like those Signet Bookshelves, but with authority, purity, tonal accuracy and an uncolored sound that manages to be faithful without becoming boring. Music truly breathes with these 750s. I'm hearing a level of realism and "you are there" with many recordings that I have NOT heard even with some of the $$$ high-end systems I used to sell and install (not naming any so relax). My problem now is as I'm listening I keep imagining what they *would* sound like with better gear driving them. Darn this audiophile obsession!!Posted Image

Detail
This is perhaps the finest sounding tweeter/high end I've ever heard. Extended yet effortless. Smooth, silky, and refined without sounded deadened or dampened. Detailed and incredibly resolving without sounding bright or forward. I've heard others describe the Rockets as "forward". All I can say is that I've heard many forward-sounding speakers, and at least in my system, I'd consider the Rocket 750s to be neutral to slightly laid-back. Center-mixed Vocals are not projected out in front of the speakers but rest solidly between or slightly behind them. Recordings are truly a revelation all over again. Their ability to image front-to-back is lucid and spot-on. Orchestral recordings give an astonishing "you are there" presentation. The speakers vanish and you're left feeling as though you're looking through a window of sound into a 3-dimensional event that extends deep and wide. I find myself pointing not just to instruments or groups of strings distributed Left/Right, but also to the "layering" of sounds front/back. These speakers paint an holographic soundstage that is vivid yet not overly-bright. If you've got a good upsampler/resolution enhancer or some DTS or 24/96/192/DSD recordings...these speakers will shock you with the profound realism that these improvements can render. CDs still sound very good, but higher-resolution recordings become eerie in their realism.

Midrange

Wow. The tonal accuracy of these speakers is astounding. I'm having quite a few "sounds like a real human voice, sounds like a real woodwind, sounds like a real cymbal" experiences listening through these 750s...competing with those experiences that I've had with $$$ systems. And this is with my (admittedly cheezy in the grand scheme of what's possible) B&K receiver driving them!!! I can *only* imagine what these speakers would sound like driven by the kind of gear and front-end they deserve. I'd love to hear their midrange through tubes.... Shuuuudddddddeerrrrrr.....

Female Vocals are especially welcome on these speakers. Nothing flat or excessively bright, and plenty of "air" around vocals. If your system is feeding a nice 3-dimensional sound to these speakers they'll project it in your room. But if you feed these speakers a flat or edgy sound they are NOT going to smooth over it. I pulled out my old $400 amplifier just to see what difference would be obtained and quickly pulled it out of the system after my holographic soundstage collapsed into a flat and edgy spray-painted image. Back to the B&K...the soundstage becomes lush and 3-Dimensional again with lots of subtle low-level resolution. Ahhhh.

I'd love to hear the new digital/hybrid amp from PSAudio or the new digital amp from AV123 with these Rockets. I think they'd benefit from *more* detail and resolution than my B&K (which as I said earlier, is a rather dark/laid back sound) can give them.

Bass

What hasn't been said already. Probably the best-integrated full-range speaker I've ever heard. Yes. I said that. I meant that. I'm sure that head to head there are other $$$ speakers out there that cost more than twice the price of the Rockets that can do *some* things better. But when it comes to bass integration...it's doubtful. Even (ok, so I will name a few names) speakers like B&W 801s and Wilson lack control of the bass to some degree. Heck...and I had thought that Dynaudio had the patent on tight bass.

WRRROOOONG.

These Rockets completely redefine what "tight" bass is. I'm just amazed. Where as most high-end speakers lead through you through a musical journey of discovering your recordings in their detail, imaging, and subtle nuance that tends to center mostly around midrange and highs...and then tack on bass to balance out the effect...the Rockets don't stop there. They take you on a music journey of hi-fidelity reproduction that could make vacation with bass where you could tour for weeks and never get bored. What am I saying and why am I pretending that I can write using these artsy-fartsy metaphors? Listen to the bass on these speakers and it will become obvious. EVERY recording now opens up a world of timbres, subtlety, nuance, and resolution...and that could be said just talking about the BASS!!! I'm hearing TONAL shifts and musical information from bass...mid to low bass...that is like hearing bass for the first time. I never knew that an affordable system like mine (only spent $2 G on my B&K amp used) can render bass this realistic and refined. Tympani drums, bass guitars, kick-drums, pipe-organ...I've never heard speakers that render these timbres so distinctly and uniquely. There is absolutely no bloat, no boom, no slowness or delay with the bass on these speakers. It's fast. It's tight. It's deep and it has impact. It's as close to "live" bass sound as I've ever heard from a stereo system. I'm sure much of this bass-fidelity works in tandem with the amplifier driving them. But let me say that with a good amp, you will hear a world of musicality in the bass of your recordings that is worthy of exploration on its very own.

If find myself playing musical tracks more than once in a sitting...once to hear the imaging, highs, and midrange subtlety and sound staging layering then again JUST TO FOCUS on the lower-frequency musical elements...it's too much to take in during on "pass" of the music.

Integration? Oh yes...just imagine a sound that seamlessly and flawlessly cascades from the most open airy and extended highs down through the mids and into deep lows without changing character, balance, or coloration. Thought you'd need a full-range electrostatic or ribbon to get that? Nope...try a pair of Rocket 750s.

The only speakers I *have* heard that *might* compare in bass reproduction (ok, so they probably would beat the Rockets if I did a side-to-side comparison...so I'm a little excited about these speakers...can 'ya tell?) were the flag-ship Genesis speakers speakers that I used to install (Genesis made the finest sounding subwoofer I've ever heard to date, I should add). They allowed you to custom calibrate the bass in terms of phase and level to match them to the room's response and the brilliant engineers at Genesis had done some miracles with the design of those woofers...the bass was clean, accurate, had absolutely no slowness...hmmm...sounds like I'm repeating what I've already said about the bass of the Rockets. Does this give you a clue? Posted Image

Good Job Mark. You guys did it with Genesis and now you're doing it again with the Rocket 750s...and pricing it so I can afford to buy it! Congradulations and THANK YOU.

Overall

I keep getting reminded of the sound of the $$ Genesis and Dunlavy speakers (IMO, the best sounding out of the high-end bunch with which I'm familiar) I've heard from my past. Yes...that's the level of balance, imaging, and tonal accuracy that I keep finding myself aluding to as I listen to the 750s on my B&K AVR 202. Ahhh.

These speakers can sound BIG when they need to and not loose the refinement they have with the most subtle of passages. I can't believe how good classical orchestral sounds on these speakers. Want to be blown away? I mean utterly CPR-requiring laid flat on the floor? Get the Rocket 750s. Get your Fantasia 2000 DVD out of the cover. Put it in your DVD player. Pick the Rapsody in Blue track. TURN OFF YOUR DISPLAY. Turn out the lights. If you don't have a Rocket Center then set your decoder to phantom. You are about to hear realism, weight, size, dynamics and imaging that rival the real thing. I had to keep pinching...no...SLAPPING myself to remind me that I was NOT in the 10th row back center-stage at the concert.

WOW.

For those of you who are into digital projectors like I am here's a happy metaphor to take home. The Rocket 750s...when driven by a good front-end, are like a 1080 progressive digital display with a 3000:1 contrast ratio and absolutely NO screen-door artifacts even from just a few feet away. The depth, picture "punch" and realism they have with DVDs (CD music) is amazing...but wait till you watch HD images (DTS, DSD, or 24/192). You'd swear you're looking through a window and NOT at a recording. Maybe it's not a bright enough projector to illuminate a 15 foot screen and it works best in a darkened room...but hey...it costs LESS than $2K. Does that metaphor help you to understand just how good these 750s can sound?

Conclusion

It's my room. My system. My cables. My amp, d/a converter...so what can these impressions really tell YOU about how these speakers will sound in YOUR system? Well...this can still give you an idea of how they *can* sound. You've got better gear? An amp that's more detailed yet smooth on the top-end will sound more articulate with these speakers. A tube amp will give them a rich midrange and make the bass sound more liquid. A bad (average) CD player will flatten the soundstage and give them irritating highs.

But still...

So now I'm gonna get that matching Center channel for HT Posted Image

Oh...to those out there who would have you believe that somehow the Rocket 750's aren't good for "music" but are really HT speakers?

Nope.

I say that bass this accurate, mids this spot-on, imaging this holographic, and highs this extended, airy, and refined are just *fine* for 2-channel music in any system capable of taking advantage of what these speakers have to offer.

What I would say to you out there is this:

For those of you who are "first time" high-end audio buyers or making your first $$ speaker purchase...welcome to the club! It's fun and you've picked a perfect set of speakers to start with...these speakers will be there for you and let you enjoy a whole world of sonic benefits from upgrades as you choose to introduce them into your system. A $10,000 Krell amplifier is NOT too good for these speakers.

So don't sit back with your Onkyo or Outlaw receivers and call it done. Enjoy that for a time. But if you're music lovers and you want to know what *real* hi-end audio is about...allow yourself down the road as your finances permit to start to play with new CD players, DACs/Decoders, and amplifiers (and even cables...just had to say it!). You'll be amazed at how each of these changes in your system will affect the presentation when you sit in the dark in your listening chair at 10:00 pm and put on that old familiar favorite CD or LP. That's where those subtle nuances and improvements that magazines like Stereo Review would tell you don't exist suddenly transform your "recordings" into a magic carpet ride that takes you away.

Enjoy!
Be an Original Aspect Ratio Advocate

Supporter of 1080p24 video and lossless 24 bit audio.

#2 of 24 Paul_Scott

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Posted September 23 2002 - 06:33 AM

David,
awesome review!
i had the opportunity to use the 250 bookshelves for 30 days, and while those particular ones didn't do it for me, if i could have afforded the 750s, i would have ordered them in a heartbeat and not looked back.
even without hearing them, i can imagine how good the 750s are because i know how well built the 250s were and how exceptional the 200 center is.

#3 of 24 MikeLi

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Posted June 16 2004 - 09:14 AM

Great review man! I love my Rockets!!!

#4 of 24 EricRWem

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Posted June 16 2004 - 12:09 PM

Damn, if only I had the cash...

#5 of 24 Jonathan Smith

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Posted June 16 2004 - 12:14 PM

I was just looking at their HT speaker packages, and I noticed that none of them include a subwoofer. Are the systems supposed to have adequate bass without a separate sub, or did they just not want to include one of theirs in the bundle?

#6 of 24 Nhan_H

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Posted June 16 2004 - 01:19 PM

Great review, Dave.

Jonathan. Just a guess here, but they just came out with the UFW10 late last year. The bass from the packages are very good, but are not adequate for the low downs of HT. If you email or call, I'm sure they can throw in the sub with a good package price. My buddy got a good discount with the 750/200/300/UFW "package".

#7 of 24 Terry St

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Posted June 16 2004 - 02:05 PM

The 750's definately benefit from the addition of a good sub for both music and movies. In addition to av123's subs, I believe you can now get some Hsu subs such as the VTF-3 with rosewood veneer that matches the rockets precisely. I use a Paradigm Servo-15 myself and love the combination. Pipe organ music is soul-wrenching! The 750's definately benefit from good electronics as well. I use an Anthem/Bryston combo that is most certainly *not* wasted on these speakers!

P.S. A quick question for David... Did you ever get a change to listen to Totem Mani-2's? I've always wanted to get those in the same room with some rockets...

#8 of 24 MikeLi

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Posted June 16 2004 - 09:14 AM

Great review man! I love my Rockets!!!

#9 of 24 EricRWem

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Posted June 16 2004 - 12:09 PM

Damn, if only I had the cash...

#10 of 24 Jonathan Smith

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Posted June 16 2004 - 12:14 PM

I was just looking at their HT speaker packages, and I noticed that none of them include a subwoofer. Are the systems supposed to have adequate bass without a separate sub, or did they just not want to include one of theirs in the bundle?

#11 of 24 Nhan_H

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Posted June 16 2004 - 01:19 PM

Great review, Dave.

Jonathan. Just a guess here, but they just came out with the UFW10 late last year. The bass from the packages are very good, but are not adequate for the low downs of HT. If you email or call, I'm sure they can throw in the sub with a good package price. My buddy got a good discount with the 750/200/300/UFW "package".

#12 of 24 Terry St

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Posted June 16 2004 - 02:05 PM

The 750's definately benefit from the addition of a good sub for both music and movies. In addition to av123's subs, I believe you can now get some Hsu subs such as the VTF-3 with rosewood veneer that matches the rockets precisely. I use a Paradigm Servo-15 myself and love the combination. Pipe organ music is soul-wrenching! The 750's definately benefit from good electronics as well. I use an Anthem/Bryston combo that is most certainly *not* wasted on these speakers!

P.S. A quick question for David... Did you ever get a change to listen to Totem Mani-2's? I've always wanted to get those in the same room with some rockets...

#13 of 24 MikeKaz

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Posted June 16 2004 - 04:44 PM

The title of the review- "A PRESENT FROM THE TRUCK DRIVER"

haha- I thought it was a review about white van speakers he picked up in a parking lot of a Dogg Digital caliber Posted Image. These seem pretty good though.

#14 of 24 Lewis Besze

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Posted June 16 2004 - 07:03 PM

I had a chance to audition these through "audio envy",but I wasn't half as enthusiastic about it as you.It could have been the room the associated equipment or the combination of both.In any case I was not impressed so I passed on to buy them.Sorry to "rain on your parade" but that's just my observation based on my listening session.[about an hour]

#15 of 24 Nhan_H

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Posted June 16 2004 - 09:29 PM

Lewis. Not a big deal. No speaker will fit everyone's tastes. BTW, very nice equipment you have there. Maybe the other equipment used to drive the rockets weren't up-to-par? Were you listening to just the 2 speakers, or was a sub involved, as well. Maybe you were underwhelmed by the sub, considering your sonotube?

I've had a chance to listen to some 750s that I helped a friend setup (driven by an HK 7200). Initial impressions were a little disappointing. I came back a month later and they sounded a whole lot better (whether one believes in break-in or not, my ears told me the speakers sounded much better). I'm used to more treble energy from my former PSB 6Ts, as well as my current Rocket 550s, so the 750s definitely sounded a little bit "laid back".

#16 of 24 Shane Martin

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Posted June 17 2004 - 12:19 AM

Lewis,
I felt the same way but in the end its much like ice cream, you like vanilla, I like chocholate etc etc. Nobody is right. The finish on these is outstanding however.

#17 of 24 MikeLi

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Posted June 17 2004 - 07:37 AM

As said above there is no one speaker that will be great enough for the masses. If there were there would not be so many speaker companies. Its a matter of getting out and listening (better yet listening in your home with your gear) and same goes for internet companies as well. If you going to spend a couple grand or more for speakers what's a little bit of return shipping if in the end you find the right one!

#18 of 24 paul clipsel

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Posted June 17 2004 - 07:54 AM

Just differences of opinions.My great friend has Rockets inc their sub and he loves them to death.Musical tastes can be very different and they do not suit me sound wise.But they are very well made, and they sure do look the part.

PC

#19 of 24 Lewis Besze

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Posted June 18 2004 - 10:47 AM

Quote:
Were you listening to just the 2 speakers, or was a sub involved, as well. Maybe you were underwhelmed by the sub, considering your sonotube?
For stereo I was listening to the 2 750s alone I wnated to hear how they do bass by themselves.At that time I still had my DT BP10s as my main speakers,and they had about a "clean" output to about 35hz.The Rockets could match that,and they were slightly more defined.My main beef was with the midrange which was just flat out "hollow",and it's upper midrange lower treble was a bit "accentuated"[bright],but the very top was smooth.In summary it's tonal balance was rather uneven,at least in that room.It's possible that they would performed better in my room,I'll will never know.
Quote:
Maybe you were underwhelmed by the sub, considering your sonotube?
I was, but I wasn't there to audition that[HSU VTF-3]Posted Image
Quote:
The finish on these is outstanding however.
I agree!Posted Image

#20 of 24 DanaA

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Posted June 18 2004 - 10:56 AM

Yes, great review!!!

As Lewis pointed out, not everybody's going to like the Rocket sound, but I have no doubt that they represent outstanding sonics for a wonderful price (especially given the appearance factor). They also have outstanding customer service, so, given their 30 day audition period, they would be one to consider.





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