Best Quiet Speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by kjdenison, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. kjdenison

    kjdenison Extra

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    I want the best sound possible, at a low level. I live in a studio apartment with neighbors on the other side of the wall. I have a Harman Kardon AVR 135 receiver, and an HD-DVD Player. Size is not an issue, I just will not be able to play the system at window shaking volumes. I am willing to spend up to $1000 on a complete surround system. Will I be able to push larger bookshelf speakers with this receiver, and will they sound better than smaller speakers at low levels? It's true that I will move in the future and may be able to turn the system up, but I want to be able to enjoy it now as well, and don't want to waste my money on something I won't even be able to use because I have to keep it down. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Alon Goldberg

    Alon Goldberg Screenwriter

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    Hi Kurt - I'd suggest the PSB Alpha Series, here's a recent review:

    "The PSB Alpha's make for a great bedroom or apartment system where accuracy is favored over volume. The PSB’s are accurate, slightly laid back and provide outstanding performance for their size."

    http://www.psbspeakers.com/alphaHTS.php
     
  3. kjdenison

    kjdenison Extra

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    Whoever wrote that nailed what I'm looking for. I know the more watts you have also helps at lower levels, I have a Harman Kardon 135 that does 6x40 watts. Is this going to be an issue? These speakers look really nice, I'm just concerned with the amount of power I have. Any suggestions?
     
  4. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    That 45x6 HK135 is probably about equivalent in REAL POWER to most mass-market receivers claiming "100 wpc" --- so no, I would not worry about not enough power esp. with your low-level needs.

    What % music to HT is your usage?
     
  5. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    Harman Kardon has always underated their receivers even next to other companies like denon or onkyo that are true rated most times. HK seems to leave no room for error I think they like people being shocked with the output they acheive with such low power ratings.

    Seth=L
     
  6. kjdenison

    kjdenison Extra

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    HT to Music is about 60/40. Are there any deals on those PSB Alphas? I see a local store supposively carries them, but it would be nice to get a deal online. Also I messed up with the wattage on the receiver, it is actually 6x40 not 6x45
     
  7. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    I like Klipsch speakers for quite listening. Their brightness gives lots of detail at lower levels, and at lower levels listen fatigue isn't really a factor.
     
  8. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Listening at low levels is what loudness buttons were designed for: to compensate for the Fletcher-Munson hearing curve, a loudness circuit boosts the lower bass and upper treble so music/movies sound more natural. But as the overall volume level is raised, the circuit reduces its effect, eventually basically turning itself off (though sometimes really cheapo gear doesn't do this).

    Unfortunately for whatever reason, it's very difficult to find them anymore which is a real shame. While ultra-audiophiles may whine about how a loudness system (supposedly) "pollutes" the audio signal [​IMG] , what use is a pure signal if you can't hear all of it!?

    Unlike my Pioneer SX-6 from 1983, my present Technics SA-DA8 A/V receiver doesn't include a loudness circuit and ALL my speakers* including my sub sound thin and dull unless I turn them up to a certain point........a point at which at night can cause problems here. [​IMG]

    * and all sound different from each other: Boston Acoustics, Infinitys, Advents and even my vintage Pioneer CS-99As with horn tweeters.
     
  9. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    I have the cs-88's, but the crossovers are bad. Do you know of any place that can repair them or replace them?

    Those speakers are awesome old speakers, rival many speakers at big box stores.
     
  10. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I'm not a vintage speaker expert, but I've read many times that older speakers like ours can have leaking or out-of-spec capacitors which can alter the way the crossover functions. But as far as I know, these would just need to be replaced, which is usually just a soldering job. The other parts of the xover, like the inductors and resistors, should last practically forever (unless the speaker is abused).

    Fortunately my CS99As sound totally fine so I haven't even checked the xovers yet. Not so the case with a Realistic Nova series speaker from @1975 I recently bought for $5 at a resale shop: the caps *looked* fine, but the tweeter has a rather "spitty" sound, a sound that more experienced vintage guys usually identify as the effect of a bad cap. Fortunately the mids and the 11" (yes, eleven) acoustic-suspension woofer w/cast aluminum frame(!) work great.

    FYI for people on a budget: the Nova has MUCH more low bass than the CS99A at frequencies less than 80Hz, which is why I'm using it as my subwoofer in my bedroom, x'ed over at 100Hz & powered by a Pioneer receiver. Nice rumbly bass for movies, clean/quick bass for music.....all for five clams!
     
  11. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    I used them with an Onkyo receiver and the auto shut off kept activating after getting very hot. I like the sound and the way they look. I got them for a buck at a yard sale. They have some storage damage but otherwise fine. the drivers are in good condition so I assume it is the crossover. From my understanding they aren't very power hungry.

    Seth=L
     
  12. MaxL

    MaxL Supporting Actor

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    i concur on the psb alphas. don't know how they compare to anything else at lower levels but i don't think you'll find anything more detailed at any level at the price. saturdayaudio.com has them on sale right now (the old models on closeout) bookshelves for $160/pr and the center is $140. they have the alpha towers too for $300/pr i think but i don't reccomend them, not because the sound is bad but it's not worth $140 more for a little extra bass extension. speaking of bass a sub will add a lot to these speakers. not sure if you can use it with the neighbors, but i listened to the psb subzeroi which they also carry, and it should work well at low levels in a small to med room. i don't work for them, but i've bought a lot from them. i used to live nearby in chicago. they are pretty good on deals and discounts especially if you need some accessories like cables, stands, etc. i figure for 2 pair of the alpha b's one alpha c and the little psb sub, they'd go for $700-$725. if you think you'll want more bass down the line get something bigger/ more powerful. you can always turn it down or off when the neighbors are home.
     
  13. Alex/d

    Alex/d Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd might be willing to fix them if you would buy the components [​IMG]
    I might even want to have them...but that's another story [​IMG]
     
  14. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Another possibility besides the xover: one of the voice coils in one of the CS88's six(!) drivers may have been burned out (i.e. melted) & now has a short. This short may not be enough to cause the transistors to fry themselves (most receivers have circuitry to sense this & then shut themselves off) but is just enough to cause an abnormal amount of current to flow through them, causing the overheating.

    Put your ear to each driver, especially the mids and tweeters, and see if they all sound alright.

    And my CS99s are very efficient, IIRC 95dB, but Pioneer traded low bass for all that efficiency - unless I cranked up that SX-6 receiver to at least 40 watts, they had little low bass & sounded really anemic in that area. But everything else, like most bass guitars and most of a drum kit's drums have tons of punch-you-in-your-chest energy. Fun!!! And that horn tweeter is sweet: no harshness whatsover but still VERY detailed.
     
  15. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    pardon me for wondering, but what does efficiency have to do with accuracy at low levels? Sure, with a klipsch, you may be able to use a low powered amplifier, and still hit 100 dB, but those levels are not desirable in a apartment.
     
  16. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    We just got off topic is all, sorry.

    I will try Lance's idea and leave it at that.

    Seth=L
     
  17. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Really efficiency and accuracy don't have anything to do with me liking Klipsch for low level listening. It has more to do with Klipsch's forwardness and detail. Some speakers mask detail at lower levels, but the Klipsch I've listened don't do this.
     
  18. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    Is there a standard audio lingo for this (revealing, detailed..., warm) ? Can it be revealed on the test bench? I'm not in the market for new speakers, but I do like my levels low.
     
  19. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    There are some measurements that can indicate that a speaker will have good sound qualities.

    First - is a reasonably flat frequency response.
    Second - low distortion
    Third - even off axis response

    These are what I usually look for. Other things come into play too, so a speaker can measure horribly and still sound fantastic.

    Terms like warm, neutral and bright are pretty subjective, but in very general terms a warm speaker will have an elevated lower frequency response falling through the top octaves. A neutral has a fairly flat response through the entire frequency response. A bright speaker tends to have a rising frequency response through the top octaves.

    Best measurements instruments are the ears of the person buying the equipment. Go listen and buy the ones you like. Don't pay any attention to others when they start knocking your choice.

    I like Klipsch for low level listening, but they're not my favorite for louder listening. When I say low level, I'm talking about less than 75db.
     
  20. kjdenison

    kjdenison Extra

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    Are Monitor Audio speakers any good for lower level listening? like the bronze series?
     

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