Big towers vs. Bigger Towers

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sebastien David, Jan 24, 2002.

  1. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    Hey guys!

    I'm currently in the process of choosing speakers and possibly a receiver/amplification for my system.

    Now I've read a lot of threads which advocate setting the main speakers to small, however big they may be, and letting the sub handle all the relatively low bass (say 80Hz and under). I've also read a lot of threads concerning the ol' bookshelf/small towers vs. big towers debate, with one side saying big towers are useless in that config because their main benefit is better/more bass, and thus you could get more for your money by spending it on smaller speakers with better tonal accuracy, balance, soundstage and whatnot. Those threads never really came to a definite conclusion, however.

    I was originally going for the Klipsch RF-7, because I knew that if I didn't get the best, I'd always have that little nagging voice in my head. Plus, the difference in price is not something lethal for my wallet.

    BUT, in light of the discussions I mentioned above, wouldn't it be best to go with, say, the RF-5, or even the RF-3II, compound the savings by going with the matching and less expensive RC-3, and spend the extra money on better amplification or savings for future upgrades or DVDs?

    One thing I'm fearing is that the differences between the RF-7 and RF-5 include more than just the bass, but an indefinite sense of "size" or "presence", even used with a good sub. If that's the case, then might as well bite the bullet and go with the RF-7!
     
  2. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    I feel that virtually any loudspeaker can benefit from the addition of a quality external subwoofer (particularly for movies). I think that some people prefer "larger" mains because they feel that it adds something desireable to their front soundstage...even when used with an external sub. Some other people may have a different preference...who knows? I recommend that you buy the "best" loudspeaker that you can afford, and add external woofage from there. Ideally you would want to compare the RF bookshelves + external sub to the RF towers + external sub...and only by doing this can you really tell if the improvement (if any) in sound quality going from bookshelves to floorstanders is worth the additional expense. Good luck!
     
  3. Allen Longcor

    Allen Longcor Supporting Actor

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    If you can't demo a similar or exact setup then go with the better speakers. This way you will never have a doubt about how good your system "could be" and you will enjoy it fully as you should. I say this only because you mention that money is not really a problem.
     
  4. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    If I were you, I would try to de-marry(divorce) myself from the notion that Klipsch was my best option. Take the budget for your RF-7's and spend a like amount on bookshelf speakers( numerous brands), and you will raise your level of fidelity by a large degree.
     
  5. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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    If you are thinking of Floor Standing I might suggest you also entertain the VMPS Ribbon Monitor Series. The Ribbon Monitor 40 just won "Best of Show" at the CES in Las Vegas.
    This speaker lists for $4600 and beat $10,000++ system from Wilson and other Audiophile speaker companies. And these systems have been designed to play loud, although not quite as efficient as the Klipsch.
    It has two little brothers that (IMHO) have attributes that might make them more attractive than the KLIPSCH models you are considering. Personally I would rather hear Ribbon mid range and Highs than dry sounding horns (of course this is a subjective personal preference)
    Look at the sight here:
    http://www.ozonik.com/vmps/e/p-rm.htm
    It is an Eastern European site, but is up to date as far as pictures. I have a price list arriving in a couple days, if you are interested e-mail me or go to the US VMPS site and ask for an updated price list.
    John Casler
     
  6. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

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    this one is curious. if it was true that purchasing bigger speakers = wasting money when i can just buy a big subwoofer, i am not gonna buy tower speakers with built in sub.
     
  7. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    buying towers with built-in subs is IMO not the best options for many reasons, but that's another story.

    i am not really looking towards bookshelves here guys, I don't really like the way they sound, it seems like they are missing presence or whatever the audiophile term is. plus, i like the looks of imposing towers.

    now, I kinda like the sound of Klipsch. Doesn't mean I'm not open to other ideas, but I want something for 80% HT, which means I want it loud and in-your-face (well, in my face anyways). but that's not the main part of the story. I work in a store that carries only Klipsch, Energy, Jamo, System Audio and Axiom. Obviously I can get killer discounts, which is basically why I'm buying now (I don't know where I'll be working at several months down the line...). therefore, it would kind of negate the whole purpose to go with something else. I will be demoing Paradigm, among others, to make my final decision. If I like the Paradigm sound better, then I will definitely hold up.

    but my question still stands, whether it be with Klipsch or any other brand or style of loudspeaker, am I wasting money going with big towers, and should I stick with something smaller and concentrate on other areas? BobA restated what I've seen in many places, and what reflects my personal philosophy: buy the best speakers you can afford, then fit in the rest in your budget down the line. that's why I was considering the RF-7 (the largest and most expensive set of speakers my store carries) in the first place... plus they are really efficient and look impressive, and have that in-your-face sound I'm looking for.

    /edit/

    Mark, could you suggest some brands of bookshelves or other that I might want to check out?
     
  8. Norman Short

    Norman Short Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with you that powered subs inside front main towers isn't the best way to go. Better to have your deep bass coming from the sub(s), probably located in a corner) instead. Some of the responses basically didn't answer your question, instead told you to buy a different brand of speaker. I don't think you were asking advice on your brand choice, only about size of speakers. So a couple people who don't like Klipsch told you to spend your money differently. Certainly they're entitled to their own opinion, but it wasn't answering your question. Klipsch seems to be controversial because some people absolutely love them and others don't like horns. I love Klipsch myself. But even my opinion on the brand is almost irrelevant.
    I have the RC-3 center and the RS-3 surrounds, which match up to the RF-3 or RB-5 mains. Short of trying both out you'll probably be wondering, and you sound like you have access to the various models where you work. I like my center and surrounds, but they didn't make the perfect match for my La Scala mains. I've been considering moving up to the RC-7 and RS-7's myself. Bigger woofers seem to be the main difference. That might make a difference in presence and power in the upper bass (above 80hz) that you still want to go to your regular speakers. Listening is still your best option.
    Another option is to seek advice on the Klipsch forums, if you haven't already. http://www.klipsch.com will get you there, where a bunch of Klipsch aficianados can help you with their own experiences with those models. I've not heard the RF-7 or RF-5; they came out after I made my purchases. I really liked the RF-3's, but when I got a chance to get a pair of vintage La Scalas for the same money I jumped at it. I love the La Scalas, but they're big and don't have perfect matches for HT unless you want to put a lot of very big speakers in the room.
    Whatever you get, you'll still want plenty of subwoofer to go with them. I'm looking to SVS for something to keep up with my system, but the new Klipsch RSW-15 might be an option for you too, especially if you can get a deep discount where you work.
    Norman Short
     
  9. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    hey Norman, thanks for the help!
    I have 1925 posts on the Klipsch forum... I am aware of it's existence! [​IMG]
    I asked for help there too, and it came out that the RF-7 have quite a big advantage in terms of the components, not just size.
    Of course, I'll have to audition. Unfortunately, my particular store doesn't have the Ref line in demo, so it's as impractical for me to get access to a demo as any other bloke. [​IMG]
    Ah well, seems like there's no definitive answer... At least people are responding, which is nice. Keep them comin' guys!
     
  10. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    I'm not really sure what makes a tower with a built in sub so inherently different from a large speaker like the RF-7...a built-in sub is merely one way to achieve lower response and higher output (from 40-80Hz) for your loudspeaker. I feel that there are certainly advantages to having a built in sub and/or near full range capability for your main channel loudspeakers...and I suspect that near full range capability for your main channel loudspeakers will add a greater "presence" to your front soundstage...and may certainly be preferrable with your music program material.

    Actually...I'm not even sure why someone even bothered to mention speakers with built-in subs for this thread...I thought we were comparing the RF-7 to RF-5 and RF-3...???
     
  11. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    nothing's wrong with using several towers with built-in subs other than the fact that you are spending money on amplification and a big driver, money that you could have spent on a better subwoofer that is separated from your mains. it is a relatively well-established fact that most of the times, ideal placement for mains is far from being ideal placement for a subwoofer. by having your subs integrated with your mains, you are then giving up a lot of flexibility in placement.

    now, if you were using additional subs on top of that, then it wouldn't be so bad, I guess, other than the fact that you'd probably have more standing-wave issues caused by all those subs in different, non-flexible locations. on top of that, well, you would have spent a lot of money, as i said before, on something that would probably not bring you as much benefit as, say, another separate sub, or a better one.

    the very fact that we are debating whether to go with big or small towers (or bookshelves) is just taking that reasoning one step further, except here we are not talking about the same frequency range (powered subs inside a tower could potentially go down to 20Hz or so, giving it full potential to interfere with other subs), nor the same monetary amount. a big tower will run you a couple hundreds more than a smaller one, all thing being equal otherwise, whereas a tower with powered sub will probably run you at least $500, and most likely $1K more than an equivalent tower with passive woofer.

    the important difference I see between a big, almost full-range RF-7 and big, almost full-range powered tower is the amp and higher costs associated with it. I feel that having a separate sub gives you more placement options. however, it could be argued that a built-in sub will probably blend in ideally with the rest of the tower, as it is designed for that purpose. an flexible crossover can IMO help achieve a similar result with a separate sub, however. it seems like this thread was going off-topic anyways, with people suggesting other brands (no problem with that though) and whatnot. I guess whoever wants to can still adress my questions above... anyways, feel free to add to that discussion, the most interesting ones are often the most off-topic ones, and since this is my topic, I guess I can allow myself to go OT here...

    don't let that prevent you from considering my first questions though!

    -Seb
     
  12. Norman Short

    Norman Short Stunt Coordinator

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    Sebastien, what a drag your store carries Klipsch but not the Reference line. That means you're probably relegated to pushing Synergy and Quartets or something. I spent a long time retailing audio/video equipment (including one regrettable stint being told to push Bose), and it sucks wanting to recommend something you don't have to customers. In my mind the Reference line is the right combination of cost/performance among current Klipsch products, though if I had the room and money for it I'd still prefer vintage stuff or the Jubilees, assuming hell freezes over and they are actually released. I'd love it if I could go into a store and find an actual setup of Klipschorns and La Scalas and such, and you're lucky to find one that even has the Reference line set up.

    I don't know how the subject of powered subs in towers came up either. The Reference line doesn't use them, though the Synergy line does I believe. As to their performance; I'm not so much worried about their use for upper bass as I am worried about them going low into sub range and creating cancellations or other modal problems. I subscribe to the best deep bass coming from one location idea. That said, I still love running my La Scalas down to 50Hz instead of the default 90Hz from my receiver. Whether it's the room or just my own biases it still sounds better than running them at >90Hz and letting the sub do it all. I might change my mind when I upgrade to SVS.

    Sounds like outside of an actual side by side comparison (hope you can find a store to do that) the consensus among Klipsch fans is to go with the RF-7. At least if you go that route you would have little doubt that the lower models would have given you any better sound; only questions if you could have saved some money for possibly equal sound.

    Norman Short
     
  13. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    You can get DT powered speakers for as little as $800/pair list price ($700/pair street price?). Even the giant bp2000TL is $2-2.5k/pair street price. Trust me Sebastian, for a well-designed powered tower, it really is worth the money! But anyway...that's a separate issue and that has been debated quite a bit in the past [​IMG] Go with what seems to work best in your room among the RF7, RF5, and RF3.
     
  14. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    Thanks Norman for your always useful contributions to this thread. I am not as of now acting as a hifi salesperson, I'm still sticking to the smaller stuff most of the time; remember I'm doing this part-time and am still in school. I know what you mean, however, because I'm often faced with the dilemma of recommending good products (i.e. Paradigm PW-2200) that we don't carry, or products that may not be as cost-efficient (i.e. Klipsch ksw-12) that we do carry. Obviously the question is easy to answer if I'm talking to a customer that will bring me business, and thus money, but what about friends? Tough call. I often end up recommending the better product, because that's who I am. And yes, the lower-end lines by Klipsch are definitely not what I would buy personally. Then again, they still sound impressive (cover the whole wall) and are very popular among customers.

    we don't really sell bad products, though, so it's not like I have to push Bose (I would either quit or never sell any) or really inferior products.

    Bob, I know you can get good powered towers for relatively low prices, but can you tell me in all confidence they will be the equals of speakers costing the same but without the amp and bigger drivers? I don'T think so. Then again, we are definitely getting in the field of personal preferences. That being said, if I didn't have a sub and didn't have the room for it or whatever, I could definitely see myself considering powered towers.

    Thanks again for the contributions guys. If anyone else has any more comments, feel free! I'm going to audition some Klipsch and Paradigm stuff in an hour or so... Guess a lot of my questions will be answered then! And if I really like the Paradigm (or any other) stuff over Klipsch, well, guess I'll have to quit my job and go work there instead!
     
  15. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    I think that towers + sub can be very worthwhile. With bookshelves + sub your crossover options are limited to the lower ranges of the bookshelves. With towers, you can do your crossover at an even lower point, giving you more options of the mix of sub and tower (this is especially true if you go with a good external crossover like the Outlaw ICBM).

    So in short, more tweaking options with towers + sub are available than with bookshelves + sub. You are not wasting money on the towers, because you can (if you like) use their capabilities. That may make absolutely no difference to you, or maybe it's very important.

    -Max
     
  16. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

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    Max,

    we're not discussing towers vs. bookshelves, but towers vs. bigger towers. still, your argument is still valid, and from what I understand it plays on the possibilities, or flexibility of the options offered by bigger towers. i may, in fact, need such a flexibility, given the fact that I'm going to change rooms very soon. on the other hand, it seems a waste if and once you've realized that you are in fact not going to use the lowest octaves produced by the towers. but good point IMO.
     
  17. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley Second Unit

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    I was digging around and found this thread, I had the RF3's and ended up changing them out to the RF7s....So what did you finally end up with?

    And what receiver did you pickup as well?

    G2
     
  18. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    "Bob, I know you can get good powered towers for relatively low prices, but can you tell me in all confidence they will be the equals of speakers costing the same but without the amp and bigger drivers? I don'T think so."

    Sebastien, I'm not sure what you mean here. Did you know that both ACI and Dynaudio have just designed "high-end" models which are powered towers? For one, these types of speakers give you the stereo sub effect. Also, seamless blending is assured by the manufacturer, and you have volume knobs which can be adjusted for each main speaker. Finally, in a HT setup, you can (usually) effectively run the mains (and sometimes even the center) as "large" and use the external sub for LFE only.
     
  19. PomingF

    PomingF Second Unit

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    Seb, I can understand your view on 'big towers' vs 'power towers' but keep in mind the amps you get with the power towers take a big load of your receiver/amp in a way saving you some good $$$ there. Since your preference is HT predominant I think you owe it to yourself not to at least 'audition' brands like Def Tech & Mirage (I know about your limited brand selection but listening shouldn't cost you much). Yes, the power tower/bipolar taste may not be for everybody in music but for HT they sure are hard to beat. Have fun.

    PF
     
  20. Mike Strassburg

    Mike Strassburg Second Unit

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    Sebastian,

    Since I just received a pair of KLF-30's over the weekend and first listened to them last night I'm ALL for bigger towers. I'm powering them with a 3802 and have them set to small as they're part of a HT/music set-up. They sound truly amazing to me. Some like the horns, some don't. I love them. These speakers are exactly what I wanted; LOUD and CLEAN.

    Small speakers/sub just don't cut it for me. Always sounds hollow or lacking upper bass/lower mids IMO. Especially when listening to music.

    I say if you like the RF-7's give them a serious listen, I think you won't be dissappointed. Good luck...Mike
     

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