Review: Klipsch RB-75,Paradigm Studio 40,B&W 705,Dynaudio 52SE

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Mario NJ, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. Mario NJ

    Mario NJ Auditioning

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    I recently upgraded my audio system and thought maybe the forum members would be interested in my evaluations of the speakers I auditioned. First and foremost is the reviewer's bias; I'm coming from a Klipsch RB-3 based system, and there is really nothing wrong with it, I just have the upgrade bug is all. So here are my reviews of the speakers in the order I auditioned them, with my final thoughts at the end.

    Klipsch RB-75 ($1200)
    Being a Klipsch owner already I listened to these first to form a reference by which I could judge all the others. The RB-75's have a much improved tweeter over my RB-3's, making the top end much more airy and precise, but alas they retained the same slightly grainy, metallic character as mine. The midrange was Klipsch at its best, more immediate and dynamic than any other speaker I've ever heard. The bass was also excellent, strong but tight, not boomy at all.

    Paradigm Reference Studio 40 ($1000)
    The top end on these speakers is very sweet sounding, a little more laid back than I'm used to with my Klipsch, but I could definitely get used to it. The midrange had a noticeably bloom to it, which I didn't mind at all actually. The bass was the deepest and strongest of any of the speakers I auditioned (not surprising since it was the only one with 2 woofers instead of 1), unfortunately it felt a bit undefined and boomy compared to the Klipsch. If I were forced to sit in a room for 12 hours listening to music at ear-splitting levels these would be the speakers I'd choose from this group, very fun speakers to listen to.

    B&W 705 ($1500)
    These speakers are very tough to criticize because they do everything so well. The top end can sparkle without being harsh, the midrange is strong and smooth, and the bass is more than adequate and always under perfect control. But for some reason they were just not fun to listen to for me. In fact, I actually got bored while I was sitting there auditioning them. I don’t mention soundstage or imaging for any of the speakers because it's just something I couldn't care less about. I want to hear the music, not see where the sound mixer wants me to think the musicians were standing. But if soundstage is your thing then these are the puppies for you, the breadth and depth was something to behold.

    Dynaudio Audience 52SE ($1400)
    The first thing that strikes you about these speakers when you first see them is how small they are, they're significantly smaller than any of the other speakers I listened to. This caused my jaw to drop the first time I heard them because they just sound HUGE. The top end is crystal clear without any hint of harshness, it's easily the best tweeter in this group. The midrange had great detail and the dynamics were very good. There was also more bass than I could imagine coming from such a small box, though I think the speaker engineers went for a little too much here as it did get occasionally boomy on stuff like big kick drum hits.

    I thought all these speakers were excellent. Unfortunately in this price range there is no such thing as an uncompromising design. That means you just have to pick the speaker that matches your tastes the best. For me it came down to the Klipsch and Dynaudio. There is no doubt in my mind that the Dynaudio’s were the most pleasingly melodious yet unfailingly detailed speaker in this group, and it is also true that the Klipsch are not the most neutral or easy-going speakers in the world, even I’ll admit they can be quite forward and fatiguing at times. Yet in the end I went with the Klipsch and I’ll tell you why all their negatives faded into insignificance for me. Being a former musician I like to spend as much of my audio dollars as I can going to live performances (full orchestra, jazz clubs, bar bands, you name it) rather than just spending it on my speaker system. So the next time you’re going to audition speakers do yourself a favor and go to a live performance first, then buy the closest thing you can to a recording of that performance. Now go listen to that recording on a set of good Klipsch speakers driven by a quality HIGH CURRENT amp (I can’t stress that enough), and if you can find another set of speakers that reproduces the sonic and emotional impact of the live performance any better then please let me know, because I haven't found them yet.
     
  2. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    Interesting read Mario. I will admit Klipsch were down the list in priority to listen to in my last speaker upgrade but with a little prodding from a few other members I decided what the heck. I wound up with the 75's up front with the RC-7. Yes a little forward but not at all what I was expecting. I have been very impressed and also really like the RB-35's for surrounds.
     
  3. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    The RB-75s would be my choice out of that group as well.
     
  4. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    At first I brought the RF-5 towers home and found them very favorable also. Being that the RB-75's have the very same 1.7 tweeter that the RC-7 center has and since I had plenty of sub, I finally decided to go the RB-75 rout.

    It was really hard for me to move on from B&W. I really like the sound but found a little semblance in the HT arena with them. I came very close with going with the B&W 705's which would have been a upgrade over my 603's and LCR-600. For music and HT I just found I like the Klipsch option maybe 5% better.
     
  5. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    Make sure to check out the Vienna Acoustics Haydn ($1000/pr) bookshelf speakers while you're at it; I have heard all the speakers you mentioned save the Dynaudios and I would choose the Viennas over any of them. They have a surprisingly low extension (lower than the Studio/40s) for a bookshelf!
     

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