Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?

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frankiePixel

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Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« on: 4 Dec 2017, 04:24 pm »
Happy Monday morning, y'all! I'm hoping for input from all you experts as I am looking to get some solid speakers for myself but am not sure where to start. I had a good long talk with someone who knows what he's talking about, and he suggested I post here. I listen to a lot of music (used to be mostly CDs, then mostly mp3s, and now like so many, mostly streaming) but I want to invest in my speakers to make the experience better.

What do you suggest I get? For simplicity's sake, I think active speakers would be best for me. I live in a one bedroom apartment. I would think I'd likely try to spend $300, $400, $500. Should I spend more?? Less? What do you guys think? I am in your hands.

Thank you all!

FullRangeMan

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: 4 Dec 2017, 05:36 pm »
Welcome aboard Frank :thumb:

Wind Chaser

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: 4 Dec 2017, 05:44 pm »
Well, if you want to go active, these will fit into your budget...

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=154206.msg1648630#new

What will you use for a source?

Phil A

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: 4 Dec 2017, 06:03 pm »
Welcome!

Phil A

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: 4 Dec 2017, 06:07 pm »
Emotiva Audio has active speakers too - https://emotiva.com/product-category/airmotiv/  and there are other companies who make some nice speakers as well (e.g. https://www.chanemusiccinema.com/multimedia)

Tyson

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: 4 Dec 2017, 06:27 pm »
Welcome Frank! 

After 25 years in this audio game, I'd recommend the ELAC speakers.  They just crush everything else out there in their price range, from a pure sound quality standpoint.  Here's their active bookshelf speaker the UB5:




IME, it's easy to get detailed and clear speakers in this price range.  What's VERY hard is to also have smooth and full/musical sound too.  And it's in the 'enjoyable and musical' area that the ELACS pull away from pretty much everything else under $1k.

frankiePixel

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: 4 Dec 2017, 07:01 pm »
Thank you all for the welcome and the recommendations. Someone else mentioned the JBL LSR305 speakers as well.

Is there anywhere in particular you'd recommend buying them? I found this link for the JBLs ($217):

https://www.amazon.com/JBL-LSR305-Professional-Studio-Monitor/dp/B00F1DEI8G

And this for the ELAC UB5s ($362):

https://www.amazon.com/ELAC-Uni-fi-Bookshelf-Speaker-Black/dp/B01CRYWVG2

Since 2004 I've been listening on a Panasonic PM39D (link below) and a few years ago I also added in a BOSE SoundLink Mini.

https://www.amazon.com/panasonic-scpm39d-5disc-progressivescan-dvd-home-theater-system/dp/B0002472FK

Follow up questions...

-- Would the JBL and ELAC recommendations be a worthwhile upgrade over what I currently have?

-- Should I maybe spend more ($600, $800, more?) to really get something great?

I pretty much listen from my computer or phone these days.

Thank you!

Tyson

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: 4 Dec 2017, 07:17 pm »
Follow up questions...

-- Would the JBL and ELAC recommendations be a worthwhile upgrade over what I currently have?

-- Should I maybe spend more ($600, $800, more?) to really get something great?

I pretty much listen from my computer or phone these days.

Thank you!

Yes, both the ELAC and JBLs would be an upgrade over what you have.

How far away do you sit from the speakers?  If it's near field, the ELACs are the way to go, if it's farfield, it's more of a wash.  The JBLs are great little speakers but they are more lively sounding than the ELACs.  Which is great, I like lively sounding speakers.  But the tradeoff is that the JBLs are less forgiving of average sources and average (or bad) recordings.  So the ELACs are less impressive sounding on first listen, but they make a larger variety of music fun to listen to, and you won't be wanting to turn it off or down after an hour or 2. 

If you want to spend more, I think you start looking larger speakers.  The ELAC F6 is a great floor standing speaker, but now you'll also need to spend money on an amp to drive them (as is true of most floorstanding audiophile speakers).  Or you could look for some used speakers - most audiophiles tend to treat their speakers pretty well, so it's easy to get a good deal on well-kept speakers.  Or you could do a kit - GR Research here on AC is one of the better options for that. 

JakeJ

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: 5 Dec 2017, 01:10 pm »
Hello and welcome to AC, frankiePixel.  Enjoy the journey.

rockadanny

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: 5 Dec 2017, 02:11 pm »
Welcome frankie.  :thumb:

To keep things simple I'd go with an active pair such as Adam F7, although slightly above your budget at $350 each, but free shipping at A'zon:

https://www.amazon.com/Adam-Audio-F7-Powered-Monitor/dp/B00B6RJA70/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512482658&sr=8-1&keywords=adam+f7

I have a pair of these in my office (connected direct to my laptop or phone via headphone jack) and preferred them over the JBLs (truer, cleaner, less colored sound/tone, and more refined). Plus, being front ported you can position them closer to a wall than rear ported speakers if necessary.

Whatever you get, enjoy your music!

ArthurDent

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: 5 Dec 2017, 05:28 pm »
Greetings & Welcome to AC frankie  :thumb:

frankiePixel

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: 5 Dec 2017, 11:29 pm »
thanks for the additional replies!

rockadanny, the Adam F7s look like another good option. more money but worth it? i don't want to automatically assume higher cost means higher quality

Tyson, thanks for the advice. I mostly listen in the main room of my one bedroom apartment. the speakers would only be about 10 feet from me most of the time

JakeJ

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: 6 Dec 2017, 02:04 am »
Seek out reviews on the speakers you like.  Pro and forum alike.  Then try find them locally and hear them.  Try to find vendors that allow home auditions (I know, tall order) and 15, 30, ? days to return for full purchase price.

JLM

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: 6 Dec 2017, 12:12 pm »
Welcome.

Speakers (and the room) are the best place to start system building so you're off to a good start in my book at least.  And there's never been a better time buy a good quality audio system (active speakers and inexpensive DAC's being on the top of the list).

I've had the JBL LSR305's here for an extended audition and they do little wrong (in my opinion the Emotivas can be 'mechanical' vs. 'musical' sounding).  Just can't beat them for the price ($100 each currently in many places).  To me, 8 inch woofers are overwhelming if placed too close.  They work fine in a medium sized room or desktop.  But being from the professional side they lack some of the flexibility/features you might appreciate.  You can spend more to find more refinement, but to make a significant improvement would take you beyond your stated budget.  Speaking of which, cheaper professional monitors (not the JBL's) can sound dry/fatiguing versus home speakers (which you specifically asked about) that are designed to be 'entertaining' (insert favorite attributes like warm, laid back, colored, etc.).  Note that many audiophiles will deny these characterizations.

Another option along these lines that I like are the $500/pair Vanatoo Transparent One speakers (I prefer them over the AudioEngines).  Realize that nearly all professional monitors, like the JBL's are 'active' meaning that one channel of amplification is provided directly to each driver and the signal from the source hits the crossover before the amps.  The advantages of this approach are not subtle.  On the other hand the Vanatoo's are 'powered' meaning that the signal from the source hits the left/right channel amps before the crossover (schematically like a 'conventional' passive speaker, but the manufacturer has matched the amp to the speaker and saved you a separate cabinet).  The Vanatoo offers more flexibility than the JBL:  digital inputs (USB, coax, optical); analog input; subwoofer output; only requires input/output/power cabling to a single speaker (except for the speaker cable to the passive cabinet).  Here's a review link: 

https://www.audiostream.com/content/vanatoo-transparent-one-powered-speakers

The ELAC UB-5's are good, but when you add the cost of a stereo amp (they're passive, not active as per Tyson above), the total cost pushes you well beyond your budget.  I'm an old fart so feel that most small passive monitors, like the ELAC B6, sound thin and bass is so tight as to be constipated.  On the other hand my old Ascend Acoustics CBM-170's (available at around $300/pair) present a more balanced and musical sound with fantastic imaging.

Happy hunting.

rockadanny

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: 6 Dec 2017, 02:00 pm »
Quote
Adam F7s look like another good option. more money but worth it?

To my ears/brain, yes. Everyone has different ears, brain, setup, room, application/purpose, and preferences when it comes to deciding what sounds best. And I agree that higher cost does not necessarily mean better sound, in general, because it is your ears/brain deciding what sounds good to you as per your subjective preferences. Many people swear by those JBLs. When I auditioned them at Guitar World, to me they sounded like music honking from plastic boxes, while the Adams sounded more like real music.

However, I did end up with both the Adams and the JBLs!  :)  I listen to the Adams when I wish to sit alone and enjoy music for an extended period of time. I find their sound captivating and highly satisfying. The JBLs are in the eat-in area adjacent to the kitchen, living room, and outdoor porch to enjoy in the background when I am doing other activities: cooking, entertaining, cleaning, reading, etc.

(Edit: Back when I got these speakers the Adams were even more expensive than they are now and I could not afford two pairs. I thought the JBLs were a good value and played well enough for my application. I am happy with both.)


frankiePixel

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #15 on: 6 Dec 2017, 04:57 pm »
Great answers, everybody! I really appreciate it. There is so much nuance to all of this and so much to dig into. It's a little overwhelming so I think I am going to go on a three day digital detox coastal spiritual retreat to come up with an answer.

JakeJ

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #16 on: 7 Dec 2017, 01:53 am »
May you find peace, fellow audiophile.  Please repeat after me...Om...Om...Om! (ad infinitum, ad nauseum)

woodsyi

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #17 on: 7 Dec 2017, 02:44 pm »
If you can handle the color, how about Dynaudio XEO 2?  You don't see much blue with the grill on.  You are getting a $400 discount because of the color...




TAS gave them a good review and they are listed as a $1500 pair in the review.

charmerci

Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #18 on: 7 Dec 2017, 07:01 pm »
. Many people swear by those JBLs. When I auditioned them at Guitar World, to me they sounded like music honking from plastic boxes, while the Adams sounded more like real music.

However, I did end up with both the Adams and the JBLs!  :)   

Well, that scares me about the JBL's which I'm considering. How do they sound in a good environment?

WGH

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Re: Beginner's Luck -- Home speaker recommendations?
« Reply #19 on: 8 Dec 2017, 02:11 am »
How about GR Research? http://gr-research.com/
I think we can all agree that Danny knows his stuff, his speakers are an excellent value and would sound good in any environment.
The N1 is just one example: http://gr-research.com/n1.aspx
The kits can be combined with cabinets from Parts Express for a complete DIY package.

Either a NAD C 316BEE integrated or the Monoprice 50 Watt Stereo Hybrid Tube Amplifier with Bluetooth for $149 would round out the system and sound much better than the Panasonic.
https://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=109&cp_id=10919&cs_id=1091903&p_id=16153&seq=1&format=2