I must be tone deaf

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Linkous, Dec 24, 2001.

  1. James Linkous

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    This is my first serious crack at serious audio equipment. I thought I would start by replacing my speakers, starting with the front 2 first. Spend about $1500-2000 on all five speakers. Small/moderate size bookshelfs are a requirement.

    I have visited several audio stores listening to $500-$700 per pair front speakers. I come out of one store 'thinking' I know which one I like best. I go into another 'thinging' I know which one I like best in that store, but cant really judge the best speaker from one store to another.

    To top it off, I'm now convinced I cant even judge speakers in the same store side by side. I think my novice ear favors unnatural bright speakers. And I live an hour from the city, so I only get to vist audio stores infrequently. So I'm starting to think I may never be able to appreciate true audio quality for a very long time.

    I do have a favourite speaker, so far, the Boston Acoustic vrm-50. Very small(a requirement), extremely detailed(there I go again with brights), very spaceous(I think I'm talking wide sound stage), etc, etc, etc. However, the Boston Acoustics vrm-50 or the entire BA line doesnt seem to get much attention out in the audio world.

    Are there particular audio CD's I should buy that help reveal flaws or strong points. How many of you went through this and what helped you through it?

    Very frustrating!!

    Link
     
  2. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    James, I have been following your posts for the last few days now and recommended the Boston's on your last thread.

    IMO, you seem to weigh too heavily what the "audio world" seems to think about the products you are considering. It's their attention (or lack thereof) that has you concerned.

    The only one who needs to be concerned with how something sounds is YOU. If you favor slightly "bright" speakers, then those are the ones you should go for. Your ears know what's pleasing to them, follow your gut. If you love the Boston sound, get the Bostons. I would even give the same advice to somebody looking to spend a ton of money on Bose. IMO, you can get far better than Bose for the $$$, but to each his own...whatever floats your boat.

    Take suggestions from members of this forum and certain audio publications...but in the end, the most important critic is yourself.

    By the way, if you are looking for positive reviews on the Boston VR-M60's or 50's, go to Boston's website and they will link you to a ton of favorable reviews.
     
  3. Bill Cowmeadow

    Bill Cowmeadow Second Unit

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    When I went shopping for speakers a few weeks ago, I took along a CD with Sarah Brightman singing 'Music Of The Night'. I cranked it very loud, not caring what other people might think, I knew what is was supposed to sound like when she hit the hight notes. If the speakers were going to fall apart, it would be pretty obvious to me. The funny thing was, other people in the stores were able to hear short commings in the speakers at high vols.

    Take some music you are sure of and crank the vol. you'll know waht sounds good vs. what sounds bad. If the store won't let you use your own material or crank the volume, go somewhere else.
     
  4. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    Check out JM Labs if you can, I heard some of their new models (they revamped a big chunk of their model line), and I was very impressed. Even the lower end (very price competitive) sounded really good.

    Andrew
     
  5. KritonD

    KritonD Auditioning

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    well some nice one's i'd suggest are the klipsch RB5 or RB3... i have the RF3's which are the same as the RB5's but are towers (RB5's are bookshelf speakers)...they are excellent speakers, a tad on the bright side, which you say you like.. and they are in your price range too.. go the klipsch.com and check em out.. there's a good BB there too where u can ask people's opinions..

    give em a listen

    kriton
     
  6. Chris Bates

    Chris Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, heres my two cents worth. I have spent many years in the business of reproducing audio, and I have found that in order to properly reproduce the sound stage, you have to split up the frequencies. We all know that the range of human hearing is 20htz to 20khtz. You have your sub bass frequncies of 20htz to 100htz, mid bass of 100 to 400, mid range of 400 to 4000, and high of 4000 to 20,000. I have always had outstanding results by using an 8" mid bass driver, a 6.5" for mid range, and a high quality tweeter in each cabinet crossed over at their respective frequncies with no less than an 18db per octave crossover network. For the sub frequencies, a well built eclosure with either a 12" or 15" woofer depending on the desired sound will complete the audio range. By matching the driver to the desired frequency you will wind up with a sound thats hard to beat at any price. Ive heard many electrostatic speakers, and one pair of magnepans, I cannot say that I was impressed with the performance for the price. I can build a set of towers that will knock your socks off for nearly half the price of a decent set of stats, or magnepans.
     
  7. Allan F

    Allan F Agent

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    James,

    Let's attack the audition issues you mentioned first. The fact is, as a general rule, we humans have very poor auditory memory. I can see why it would be dificult as a novice to differentiate speakers from store to store. Our auditory memory as well as our ablility to isolate small differences improves with practice. This explains why those with more exposure i.e. musicians can generally hear subtle differences that are very difficult for the untrained ear to pic up. This has more to do with the development of the Auditory Cortex as opposed to the ear itself. Along those lines, you may find comparing speakers side by side to be a much easier task since you can A/B them. If you decide on a favorite pair from two stores consider taking them home and comparing them in you own environment and I gurantee you'll have a favorite. Speakers are VERY personal. Take guidance from others with more experience and then trust your ears. I'm not going to get into what you should look for in a speaker because that is beyond the scope of this question.

    In terms of listening material, use your own. Maybe three distinctly different types. Definately include well recorded vocals. We can all handle a bit of distortion with musical instruments (less so with musicians) be we all know what the human voice should sound like. My personal 2nd favorite is Jazz for comparison purposes. Most importantly, have fun. Speakers are clearly the most personal and important component you will purchase. This is what sets your system apart from everyone elses and makes it YOURS.

    Allan
     
  8. James Linkous

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    Evan S

    I really appreciate your advice. And yes, if I had to choose right now, I would go with my gut and get the BA vrm-50 or 60.

    However, my friends call me a 'German Perfectionist', actually a 'F---ing German Perfectionist', and I cant move forward until I have totally convinced myself that I making the right choice. However, I do realize that audio is subjective and there is still alot of 'art' to the trade, which makes researching the hard cold fact impossible. I love hard cold facts............ I'm really ranting tonight, which happens when I get frustrated so I'll get off of here, Again thanks for the advice!

    Link
     
  9. James Linkous

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    I was writing evan's reply and a bunch of other replies showed up. Thanks, I really appreciate it.

    PS, Whats the best/helpfull audio stores in Columbus OH.

    Link
     
  10. Vinny Petronio

    Vinny Petronio Stunt Coordinator

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    I have to go with the rest of the bunch I recently upgraded my speakers from B&W 602s2 series to B&W CDM7NT's Now for what I was looking for was something that was pleasing to my ear not to bright with a large sound stage after auditioning quite an assortment of speakers and brands I chose the CDM7 series over Sonis farber which everyone said sounded better and I am not sorry because I me and no one else can make this choice and to me they are the best get what pleases you the most ask if you can audition them at home and there return policy they gave me a week at home to make up my mind installed them and helped me set up my sweet spot.
    Vinny[​IMG]
     
  11. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

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    I would have to say that you should try to listen to your fave music for sure. Listen to different types though. Listening to different types of music when testing speakers a few years ago is actually what turned me on to types of music I hadn't listened to before. I recommend folk, rock and roll, classical, blues and anything with piano, horns, stand-up bass like the Bare Naked Ladies use and vocals. Really, I know its sounds obvious, but some people listen to nothing but rock music, and they miss out on the really good acoustic bass out there and some listen to classical and miss out on the horns.
    Like I said, bring your favorite music and choose based on that. As time goes on, you may discover different things about different music and different speakers. Whatever you chose over the next bit of shopping, you may come to like your speaker choice more even when you discover its shortcomings (no speaker is perfect, apart from zillion dollar ones). I haven't heard the Bostons you refer to, but having owned a pair of Boston A70 II's for 12 years, I love the Boston sound and I'm sure those VRM50's sound nice. The only thing you'd need is a subwoofer if you like gut wrenching bottom end. When I bought my PSB's, I specifically wanted to pick up speakers that weren't too much unlike the flat sound of my old Bostons. Not flat as in lifeless, flat as in i can't tell so much that a speaker is playing.
    Try listening to PSB, Paradigm and Mirage speakers. Canadian speakers that are very impressive. Don't know if they are found anywhere near you, but its worth a look. Listen and enjoy [​IMG]
     
  12. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    James,
    You're a German Perfectionist who likes cold hard facts? Well, ditto (except I don't know how much German ancestry I might have). I found PSB speakers to be well researched, well designed, and great sounding.
    To quote an earlier review of mine regarding the PSB Image 1B loudspeaker,
     
  13. Nick L

    Nick L Second Unit

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    FYI the S in PSB stands for Sharon, Paul's wife.

    Nick L
     
  14. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Give the NHTs a listen, too. If you can find them; I don't know what store there is in Columbus, OH that might handle them.

    Also check out their websites for more product info.

    FWIW, Boston, B&W, Paradigm, DefTech, NHT, nOrh, Klipsch, and Mirage all seem to be pretty popular choices here, in that size range. And many, many more - that's just off the top of my head.

    Key thing: find a dealer that will allow you to take them home and listen to them there. Often requires a credit card "payment" that is authorized but not carried through until your say-so. They kind of have to get to know you first, though.

    The reason for in-home: there are too many other variables affecting sound. Placement of speakers, wall treatments (materials of construction, methods of construction, pictures, wallcoverings, etc., etc.), floor (same idea), distances, just a huge number of variables. Using the speakers at home allows you to get a feel for them where you will listen to them, not as they sound in the store.

    Good luck!

    Mike
     

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