My take on the HTD speakers ...

Jason Hammerly

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 28, 1999
Messages
739
I recently bought the level 3 bookshelfs and level 3 center and the level 2 bookshelfs, and level 2 center to try in home. I initially unpacked the level 2's to give them a look and listen to them for a bit. I'm using a Yamaha RX-v640 receiver and a panasonic dvd player as my sources.

The level 2's were black, and I wasn't to impressed with the finish. They were put together well, but the finish of the speakers reminds me of the cheap ikea furniture. I would imagine they would be durable, but my wife wasn't too impressed. She much preferred the Athena's we we're using. Another thing of note was the speaker grill and were it goes into the speaker. It looks like there are just four holes drilled into the face of the speaker and the grill posts are plastic and barely hold the grill on in the sloppy holes. Wasn't impressed with that either. You would think they'd spring for better grill posts and grommets or something. Overall, I guess you could say I wasn't all that imressed with the finsh of the speakers. On to the sound ....

I was, however, very impressed with the Level 2's when I listened to them. They had a very large soundstage and the imaging was great. They were fairly neutral as well. I listened to a fair bit if Chris Isaac Forever Blue and some Shania Twain, and they did a very nice job. You'd swear the vocals were coming from the center channel. For music I thought they did a good job. Popped in Fifth Element and listened to them for most of the movie as well. The Dialogue was a little weak, so I bumped up the center a little bit, and that improved. Overall the pans were fairly seamless, and the soundstage was pretty immersive. At times the speakers seemed like they strained a little, but overall, they did a nice job for home theater. Overall I was very impressed with the sound of the level 2's, but I'm probably going to send them back as my wife and I both dislike the finish and the quality could be a bit better. A fine set of three speakers for the money, but just not my bag I'm afraid.

The level 3's were quite the different story. I got the cherry finish in the bookshelfs, and they were nice. A little too red IMHO, but the fit and finish looked very nice. These things are HUGE. Same goes for the center. 20# bookshelfs and an over 20# center. Yikes. Even on my 51" TV the center looked huge. I couldn't imagine what it would have looked like on my old 36" tube.
If you were going to get HTD speakers, I'd stay away from the black and get one of the woodgrain finishes. They look much more upscale. On to the sound .... I was unimpressed. As soon as I swapped them out with the Level 2's and put on the same tunes, I was like .... yuck. The ribbon tweeter is just not for me. The speakers sounded very muffled to me and extremely laid back. I did not enjoy the sound. Let them play for a while and came back and listened some more and I'll have to say, they were not my cup of tea. Unless they have a major change after extensive break in, I can't see me enjoying these speakers. It must be the ribbon tweeter as I've never had a ribbon tweeter before, but to me the soundstage felt very small. They may sound great to some, but over the years I've had everyhting from JBL to B&W speakers, and I can just tell that the sound wasn't going to work for me.

I'm very glad I tried the HTD speakers. The Level 3's are something you definitely have to try to see if you like them. If you do like them, you get some impressive looking speakers for not a lot of jack. The level 2's are an impressive little speaker considering you can get the front three for about 300 bones shipped. Although I don't think I'll be keeping them, I think they would make a great setup for someone on a budget. Once again, definitely go for the wood grain finish. That would make the level 2's a very viable option and great bang for the buck.
 

Luis Gabriel Gerena

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 18, 2000
Messages
410
Wow, I am totally stunned with your results. The Level 3 having a small soundstage? Every time we change from the Onix X-ls and Rockets to the level 3 it would seem like my room grew in size due to the much wider soundstage. Also, if my friend listen to you calling the HTDs laidback or muffled he may die lol. He called them too bright for his taste. I cant imagine what you will think of the Onix xls or the Rockets as they (specially the rockets) were much more laidback. What receiver did you use? There must be something wrong there because even if you dont like the sound, I cant conceive the small sounstage and muffled sound...maybe you are more inclined to bright speakers (ie Klipsch like sound?). Well, in any case, I am dissapointed you didnt like it but its actually the reasons you are dissapointed for that make me wonder that something is not completely right. I didnt give mine much of a break in so mine dont sound better due to that. Heck, I even have a Harman Kardon avr-635 which is consider a neutral receiver too!
Thanks for writing and sorry for your results. I would still recommended to mostly anyone that likes a neutral speaker...think slightly brighter than Onix X-LS and much neutral than Titans or the harshier Klipsch.
Regards
 

Jason Hammerly

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 28, 1999
Messages
739
I don't know really. I used the Athena's, HTD level 3's, and HTD level 2's all in the same evening and then went back to the Athena's, so you're guess is as good as mine as to what the problem was. Speakers are so subjective. It could be my room or setup to. I don't think they are bad, just that they didn't work for me and my room. The athena's are kind of bright, so maybe I am used to brighter speakers. It's just weird that I liked the level 2's sound so much and not the level 3's. Once again, it just may be the ribbon tweeter.
 

Adam Stoltz

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
60
Real Name
Adam Stoltz
Jason, nice write up. From my experience, not with the HTD speakers but others, you may want to give them a nice break-in period. Things may change or maybe not. Also maybe try them in a different room and see if the sound is any different, room size, wall placement, windows, furniture can also play games with the sound. It is always fun to audition new speakers, especially ID brands
 

Luis Gabriel Gerena

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 18, 2000
Messages
410
I think I found the problem. Your receiver is probably not strong enough to drive them. These are not very easy to drive speakers and maybe I should add that to my comments. Its probably due to the line transmission design and the required stuffing material. I have to push my 635 a bit hard to make them sing and keep in mind that my 635 weigths 41lbs and pulls 1000w max (8.3amps) from the wall. Your receiver weights 25lbs and pulls 290w (2.4amps) which I am afraid is not nearly enough for these speakers. The Onix will probably have the same issue if you were to try them as they seem to be hard to drive as well (relatively).
I am no trying to put down your equipment or anything and in fact, I have a older pioneer receiver at home that I will use tonight to test if I get the same bad performance since its power is comparable to yours.
Again, dont take any offense on this as I am just trying to find out the reason for this lack of soundstage and highs when in my case sometimes I have to double check my side speakers to make sure they are not fooling me! :)
I will report later with my Pioneer findings if you like me to. And I will put a note on my review as well.
Regards
 

Jason Hammerly

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 28, 1999
Messages
739
That's a good point. That thought hadn't occured to me. I probably just didn't give them enough juice. Let us know how they sound with your old pioneer.

Jason
 

dtor

Auditioning
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
2
Real Name
Dmitry Torokhov
Luis,

Were you able to test with your Pioner? Do you think that Onkyo SR674 would be able to drive level 3 speakers properly?

Thanks!
 

TimJC

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Messages
62

To backup what Jason wrote above, I have had the same new version of the HTD Level 2's with the FCD cones for about a year and a half now, and I agree with his assessment of them as he described in the first post in this thread. Only thing I find different is that the dialogue isn't weak, but I am also angling the center downward toward the listener, so I'd bet that helps address this concern. The black finish is not a problem for me, as I want them to disappear into the theater, so I am happy to enjoy their performance. FYI, I am driving them with a Pioneer VSX-1015TX.

Well said Jason.


Tim
 

Luis Gabriel Gerena

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 18, 2000
Messages
410
I havent checked with my old pioneer but I just cleaned the place yesterday and I have the pioneer easier to get now so I will try my best to test tonight (if the wife doesnt nag me ).
One thing to keep in mind is placement...the best way to really test what a speaker is capable off is placeing them 6' away from you and from each other forming a perfect triangle and then toe them in towards your sitting position. That way you are really listening to the speakers and not your room acoustics. I still use some foam pads to fight early reflections. Trust me, yesterday was the first time I did this and it was jaw dropping. The detail, so revealing...its amazing and totally free!
The more I study this the more I am surprised at home much the room affects sound. Someone from thx (I believe) said that the speakers and receiver form %50 of the sound and the room is the other %50...based on my recent tests, I will have to agree. Just moving my speakers around I can make them sound totally different.
So, any time you plan to compare speakers...try that setup to isolate the speaker.
Regards
 

Slirp

Auditioning
Joined
Nov 20, 2006
Messages
12
Real Name
Jay Constant
Very interesting. I'll be very interested to hear how the difference in power makes these sound different. I have to admit after looking at these speakers I was wondering if they were a little power hungry. I'm about the pull the trigger on a new 5.1 setup this week, I'll definately have to keep checking in. Thanks to Luis review of the HTD's they were already on my list of potential purchases.

Luis, how do you think a Panasonic SA-XR55 would do driving these?
 

Luis Gabriel Gerena

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 18, 2000
Messages
410
I am sure it will do fine as those digital amps seem to carry quite a punch.
I just finished fine tuning the placement using that old 6' away from sitting guide and WOW. I am speechless. I havent check without my HK equalization but I just did a small frequency response test without SUB and it seems to be very flat and it translates into a stunning musical experience. Honestly, I hear things Ive never heard before.
Give it a try with your speakers...I am sure it will help any speaker. I am so impressed that I am actually considering re-reviewing some of the speakers that I still have home.
I will try to test the pioneer if my wife goes to sleep early lol
All I can say is, this is the cheapest upgrade Ive ever done and free!
Regards
 

Tony Genovese

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 5, 2000
Messages
811
I'm not. Let's see. They're placed on a 51 inch tv, which would limit how much space between them. In addition, they're way too high. The ribbon has controlled dispersion, aimed at sounding best in the sweet spot. Well guess what. In this setup, there is no sweet spot.

These (most) speakers need to be out on stands, placed properly, and they will show you what they're capable of. Any speaker, placed improperly, will sound like crap.

They're clearly not the speakers for the OP based on the above. I am not surprised that a small sub satellite sounded way better given the configuration.
 

Luis Gabriel Gerena

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 18, 2000
Messages
410
I never considered that....good point.
I actually urge anyone that ones to hear how much better their speaker can be to form a 6' equillateral triangle and listen to your speakers...they should sound much more revealing, detailed and simply much better. If they dont then you either have great room acoustics treatment or the speakers are really that bad. :)
 

Jason Hammerly

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 28, 1999
Messages
739
Actually when I tested them I had them on an audio rack that was open on all sides and the were about 8' apart and sitting on glass shelves. I also placed them on some stands I had brought up from downstairs, and it didn't make a difference to me. The center however as on my TV. For 2 channel testing though, the center being on the tv didn't matter. Do people really think I had all 3 speakers on top of my TV?
I'm crazy, but no that crazy.
 

Chris Quinn

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Messages
1,127
I've heard the previous generation HTD3 w/o a ribbon tweeter at a get together on a tube amp. They were near the bottom in everyone's opinion. I heard them the next day on a very powerful amp and they became one of my favorites.
 

patNSH

Auditioning
Joined
Jul 13, 2005
Messages
3
I am curious about the new level 2 towers that look like centers on stands. Anybody hear those?

Pat
 

RonR

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 26, 2000
Messages
197
I have a set of the level 3's from about 5 years ago, love em. I use a Denon 3805 with them and couldnt be happier. I have a 5.1 setup currently and was just looking today at some of their speakers to get to 7.1....
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
345,206
Messages
4,734,243
Members
141,412
Latest member
rolynarole