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High end Speaker vs Low end - what's the difference? (1 Viewer)

Brammer654

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Hey guys,

Right now I have what I can only assume is a quite low end speaker system - the Yamaha NS 777 towers w/ns 444 and ns 333 center and surround.

I have found these to be adequate but I am interested at what the difference is when you move into the higher price ranges.

Reason being... I have the opportunity to purchase some Elac speakers which are in the 2-3k range.

My speakers right now go loud, with seemingly minimal distortion or stress, they are clear and fill the room nicely...

So what can a speaker set up from B&W, Elac, Paradigm, etc that costs 10 times what the Yamaha's cost actually actually give me?[/b]
Is it just the ability to go louder? Clearer? better soundstage or imaging? Dynamics?

Thanks for all your input

Brammer654
 

Jeff Gatie

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The last three, yes. The first, not necessarily. Sometimes the better sounding speaker is not as efficient, producing cleaner but lower output for the power supplied. Luckily, speaker efficiency is one of the measurable parameters usually listed in a speaker specs (and one of the few specs that is less prone to meaningless propaganda put out by the manufacturer).
 

Leo Kerr

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And, where it gets really tricky, is all speakers "color" the sound in their own right. A speaker is as much a musical instrument as a clarinet or violin. You really need to hear a lot of speakers and find out who you like the sound of. For me, I can't stand the sound of ported speakers - at least, not any of the ones I've ever heard.

And a speaker doesn't have to be expensive to sound "good." My first "real" speakers I bought were some NHT SuperZeros - about $150/ea, I think. The imaging that they had was infinitly superior to the big monsters I had been using - although they had no low-end. And once I got an amplifier that could drive them, there was no comparison.

But then, in my case, I like what others call "bright," and I like the sound and roll-off of a sealed box (finally got a sealed box subwoofer, too,) although I've enlarged my mains from the Zeros (up to the SuperOnes.)

A problem with starting to listen to a lot of speakers is eventually, you realize that there are almost an infinite (seeming) number of different "voices," and you wonder, will the next one be better? And if you're like me, it makes it hard to actually commit to buying something.

Leo
 

Leon Liew

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Brammer654 said:
Hey guys,

Right now I have what I can only assume is a quite low end speaker system - the Yamaha NS 777 towers w/ns 444 and ns 333 center and surround.

I have found these to be adequate but I am interested at what the difference is when you move into the higher price ranges.

My speakers right now go loud, with seemingly minimal distortion or stress, they are clear and fill the room nicely...
 

Mattias_ka

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I don't agree with you Leo. All speakers are not coloring the sound as much as each other. Some speakers are CLEARY less colored than others and have a lot less distortion. So there are some speakers that are more correct than other.
 

Ken Seeber

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Some speakers may color sound less than others, but they are coloring nonetheless, so Leo is correct.

Brammer, do yourself a favor and go to a good dealer and listen to a variety of speakers. You'll be amazed at the difference from one speaker to the next, even among very good speakers. You need to get an idea of what you like, and the only way to do that is to listen.
 

Adam

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First before answering, I would like to ask Leon Liew what was the purpose of just requoting the question. Are you adding anything here?

I think the best advise I can give you is that if you are happy with your Yamaha's keep them. There is no need to spend more money if you are already happy with the sound of your current speakers.

I wouldn't buy the Elac speakers without listening to them first, you may not like the sound as much as your current speakers. Or, you may like them a little better but not worth the difference in cost. Also, with more expensive speakers you need better source equipment. Better speakers are much more revealing of poor amplification. Bright sounding amps do not match well with bright sounding speakers and vice-versa.

And of course there is the law of diminishing returns. Once you have a quality set of speakers, with each increase in the cost of a set of speakers there is little returned in increased sound quality. Just go listen see what you think is worth it. No one can tell what your ears will.
 

Mattias_ka

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Well, I think it is a big difference if speaker A color the sound "5%" and speaker B "64%". Yes, both color the sound but there is a BIG difference how much and clearly one is MUCH more correct.
 

Gary Shipley

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I agree with Adam. I have a pair of JBL ND310's which are not high end speakers by any means , but I love the sound I get from them. Sure , it would be great to have a set of Paradigms , but would I really be happier with them? Maybe , but I think I would rather upgrade to them if I really needed to (say if they JBL's became damaged). But above all , like he said , let your ears do the work for you and take your time checking them out.
 

Brammer654

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Ryan Brammer
Hey guys,

I appreciate all your replies.

I did have a chance to listen to a bunch of higher end speakers and they do all have thier distinctive sound. I can't really describe them, but I did notice them.

I have to agree with Adam in that the difference I noticed was substantial, but I am not sure if it was 2-3k substantial. I can see how one can spend a ridiculous amount of money searching for that 3% better quality.

Bottom line - if I was more into 2 channel music I may think about it, but seen I do a lot of hometheater, the yamaha's don't seem so bad. Especially since I do not have the proper amplification like Adam posted. I would feel better if I invested in a 2k power source/amplifier to actually get everything out of the speakers and to not risk damaging them.

Anyways, thanks again for all your posts. Any further thoughts or experiances on this or even on Elac speakers in particular would be appreciated.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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IMHO, you don't necessarily need to spend $2K for the amp. There's a good used market for that. You can probably find a nice, old (but still good) "boutique" 5-channel amp for anywhere from $400-1K on the used market. Heck, someone was just selling a nice Atlantic Tech 7-channel (w/ good sets of interconnects thrown in) for just $550 shipped in the hardware forsale section. Someone else was also unloading a pretty good Rotel 5-channel for well under $400 shipped for like a month too.

My old B&K 5-channel was also bought used back in the early days of DVD for ~$650 shipped -- and you can probably get one for ~$400 on the used market now.

For the prepro section, you can maybe go cheap w/ something like the Yamaha 663 receiver (and just use its pre-out), if you don't mind that it only has 2 HDMI inputs. OR there are other alternatives if you don't need processing of the lossless surround codecs (found in Blu-ray and HD-DVD).

If you must have an all-in-one receiver and stay inexpensive, the Onkyo 805 looks like a great bargain and can be had for under $700. There's also the Onkyo 875, if you can spend the extra $.

Also, the used market can also be good for speakers too though that's probably harder to do w/ more risks involved.

Really, there's no reason to stick w/ those no-frills Yamaha speakers, if you care about sound quality. There are lots of options out there. But yeah, you're probably right though that there's less need for a high end system just for watching the occasional movie. I agree that this stuff makes more difference for music playback, especially the traditional 2-channel variety.

_Man_
 

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