Shopping for new speakers

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KeneallyFan

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Shopping for new speakers
« on: 9 Aug 2020, 01:23 pm »
I am a former Magnepan owner. There were a lot of things i really liked about those speakers, but as a rocker, I was never really happy with their dynamics or bass performance. So back in 2003, I jumped onto a demo pair of Dynaudio Contour 3.0 speakers. Overall, i have been pretty happy with these, but lately have been feeling a little bored. You know how it goes.

I am intrigued with the Spatial Audio offerings, but I am wondering if they would be a good fit for me. I guess i tend to prefer a more laid back presentation. I'll give an example. Back in March, before the shutdown, I visited a local audio shop. I auditioned speakers from Dali, Focal, and Revel. They were all very nice, but out of those three, I liked the Revel Performa3 F208 the best. It seemed the most coherent to me, and had the most natural frequency response. I have learned the hard way that things that seem impressive at first can become fatiguing over time.

It's very hard to pull the trigger on expensive speakers without hearing them in person, so I am asking for owner opinions. How would you describe the presentation of the M3 Sapphire, for example?   

Bob Stark

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #1 on: 9 Aug 2020, 05:22 pm »
Where are you located?  Important as far as what is available on the used market. 

Bob

Audiosaurusrex

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #2 on: 9 Aug 2020, 05:44 pm »
The M3 Sapphires are just so engaging and not fatiguing at all. Very open sounding and extremely dynamic. It is almost like there is air and space between the instruments. I had Vandersteens before and they were muted in comparison. They’re good looking and amazing sounding very easy to drive. So my musical tastes vary from jazz to rock and these perform exceptionally with all kinds of music.  Tool, Dire Straits, Miles, all phenomenal presentation with great detail.

Jean-Paul

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #3 on: 10 Aug 2020, 12:49 am »
I haven't heard the Sapphires but own the discontinued M4 Turbo S. If you're looking for laid-back sound I would be very careful because, unless the newer SA models are VERY different to the old, they are the opposite to laid-back. They're for people who value you-are-there immediacy over anything else. Even my Lipinski L-707s, which I consider on the bright and hard side of neutral, sound soft and muted compared to the M4 Turbo S. However, maybe the Sapphires are completely different in this regard. But I think you need to be careful about parting with your money without auditioning them.

JLM

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #4 on: 10 Aug 2020, 10:57 am »
Of course trialing at home is preferred to see how they perform in your room with your amp. 

Revels are well respected.  They come from the Harmon International group where lots of advanced design (including controlled directivity) and testing occurs. 

If you follow the teachings of Floyd Toole, you'd be looking at monitors and add 3 - 4 subs to even out inherent in-room bass peaks/dips.  Toole invented Spinorama anechoic chamber testing and led the way for serious listening tests.  His book "Sound Reproduction" 3rd edition is the consummate audiophile guide to understand how speakers behave in-room.  His advice is to shop for speakers first (his spinorama tests can predict how well speakers will perform in-room).  He prefers active designs. 

ric

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #5 on: 10 Aug 2020, 01:29 pm »
Tell people where you are from or go to that Spatial topic, and see if you can audition. I have the M3TS and am a little confused about what you want.  You want a live rock sound, but also laid back(?) Spatials/OB speakers do live (pronounced Lie-ve) very very well and excel in controlled bass response and imaging as well. These speakers IMO do everything well and the newer models (apparently) do micro detail better than older models.
Good luck!

KeneallyFan

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #6 on: 12 Aug 2020, 12:02 am »
Where are you located?  Important as far as what is available on the used market. 

Bob

I am located near Harrisburg, PA

KeneallyFan

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #7 on: 12 Aug 2020, 12:15 am »
Of course trialing at home is preferred to see how they perform in your room with your amp. 

Revels are well respected.  They come from the Harmon International group where lots of advanced design (including controlled directivity) and testing occurs. 

If you follow the teachings of Floyd Toole, you'd be looking at monitors and add 3 - 4 subs to even out inherent in-room bass peaks/dips.  Toole invented Spinorama anechoic chamber testing and led the way for serious listening tests.  His book "Sound Reproduction" 3rd edition is the consummate audiophile guide to understand how speakers behave in-room.  His advice is to shop for speakers first (his spinorama tests can predict how well speakers will perform in-room).  He prefers active designs.

I live in an apartment, so multiple subs are probably out. I actually own a sub, but it has been boxed up for a few years. My downstairs neighbor complained that i was shaking stuff off their walls. I was sort of surprised, since i don't typically listen all that loudly. I guess that low frequency content can travel through a building easily, depending on construction materials.

I really am not committed to the Revels. I was so surprised that there was an audio shop near me, that I just went just to check things out. They are more geared towards home theater, but they carry a surprising number of brands. I let the salesman guide the audition, and I liked the Revels the best out of the ones I listened to.

KeneallyFan

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #8 on: 12 Aug 2020, 12:51 am »
I am located near Harrisburg, PA

When i said I was a rocker, i didn't mean to imply that I want to listen at live concert levels. Even if I wanted to, that would probably get me evicted! However, having been a teenager in the 70's, rock-n-roll is very dear to my heart. When i was living in NY, I was running a pair of Magnepan MG12s in a small room. They just didn't cut it when I relocated and had a bigger room. I would probably still own them if all i listened to was solo piano. When i pop in some Galactic or Zappa, i do like to hear some bass.

I probably also misspoke when I said I prefer a laid back presentation. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that i value coherence. I don't like it when the different drivers in a speaker call attention to themselves. For example, I think the Focal speaker i auditioned was the Kanta 2. It was incredible with vocals, but something about the mid bass struck me as strange and destroyed the illusion.

Overall, i like my current speakers. They have the Dynaudio house sound, fairly neutral but maybe the low end is a little emphasized. My main beef with them, other than them being close to 20 years old, is that they need to be goosed a bit to come alive. I would like whatever I replace them with to be a little more sensitive. I don't want to be shouted at, but a little more forward wouldn't be a bad thing.

Audiosaurusrex

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #9 on: 12 Aug 2020, 01:09 am »
KeneallyFan
Other than the phenomenal presentation of all types of music, I just love that the M3’Sapphires sound great at low listening levels. Apostrophe never sounded so good. I really think they will put many box speakers to shame.

Grahamps

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #10 on: 12 Aug 2020, 07:06 pm »
. I really think they will put many box speakers to shame.

I'm keenly awaiting things to fall into place on my end so I can order a pair of M3's. It occurred to me that the best speakers I've setup, including the Wilson Alexandria, B&W 800D, and Morel Fat Lady all went to great lengths and expense to minimize cabinet influence. When I owned a pair of vintage Magnepan Tympani 1D's, I read that their driver tech wasn't as fast as typical drivers, but it's the effect of no cabinet that gave them a sense of speed. At the best level of performance I attained with the Maggie, Tympani's were like seeing what the mic saw, or whatever was synthesized was done so, and placed, so accurately/naturally. Don Sachs' description on the other thread of what he "hears" with his Spatials struck a chord with me.

Anyhow, I'm anticipating that the M3 will be capable of serving as a window into recordings, or even placing performances in the space. I'm game to invest in them asap, and go from there.

mrotino332

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #11 on: 12 Aug 2020, 07:36 pm »
I completely agree with Don's assessment of the X5's in the other thread.  I also bought the X5's without ever hearing any Spatial Audio speaker and they have surpassed all my expectations.  They truly disappear and don't have any identifiable sound signature except what's on the recording.  I've finally after 40 years found a speaker whereby I've stopped analyzing it (mentally listing pros and cons) and now just listen to the music.  I find no con (just my opinion) and am very satisfied.


Jean-Paul

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #12 on: 13 Aug 2020, 04:36 am »
When i said I was a rocker, i didn't mean to imply that I want to listen at live concert levels. Even if I wanted to, that would probably get me evicted! However, having been a teenager in the 70's, rock-n-roll is very dear to my heart. When i was living in NY, I was running a pair of Magnepan MG12s in a small room. They just didn't cut it when I relocated and had a bigger room. I would probably still own them if all i listened to was solo piano. When i pop in some Galactic or Zappa, i do like to hear some bass.

I probably also misspoke when I said I prefer a laid back presentation. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that i value coherence. I don't like it when the different drivers in a speaker call attention to themselves. For example, I think the Focal speaker i auditioned was the Kanta 2. It was incredible with vocals, but something about the mid bass struck me as strange and destroyed the illusion.

Overall, i like my current speakers. They have the Dynaudio house sound, fairly neutral but maybe the low end is a little emphasized. My main beef with them, other than them being close to 20 years old, is that they need to be goosed a bit to come alive. I would like whatever I replace them with to be a little more sensitive. I don't want to be shouted at, but a little more forward wouldn't be a bad thing.

The SA range do sound very coherent, probably due to having a single driver covering much of the audio range. However, I think they aren't as flat as other speakers using more drivers and DSP. There's definitely a peakiness in the Turbo S driver but perhaps this is ameliorated in the Sapphire. Bass, however, on the SA's may not have the power and extension that box speakers have. It's very tight and natural but somewhat overwhelmed by the mids and highs.A friend of mine who heard my M4 Turbo S found them "fatiguing" and much preferred my Barefoot MM12s. I really suggest you listen to them yourself.

bbybaudio

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #13 on: 13 Aug 2020, 03:38 pm »
Re: Bass on SA speakers.l The bass on my X5s is equal to and generally better than any box speaker I have owned or heard. Bass on the X5s is full, but also natural and quick, never bloated.

Tyson

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #14 on: 13 Aug 2020, 04:13 pm »
Speculating about now the Sapphire range performs based on experience with non-Sapphire speakers is ludicrous. 

Jean-Paul

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #15 on: 14 Aug 2020, 04:23 am »
Speculating about now the Sapphire range performs based on experience with non-Sapphire speakers is ludicrous.

Why not? I'm talking not about other brands but a recently-discontinued Spatial Audio model. We can presume that the older model has at least some similarities to the new models because generally speaker designers have a particular sound they are aiming for. Newer models generally try to refine the overall sound of the older but rarely go to the opposite extreme. The problem about seeking advice on a Forum dedicated to a single manufacturer is that the participants are almost always owners of that particular brand and therefore biased towards it. Now, I've read some of the raves about the M4 Turbo S and most of those didn't find the bass particularly lacking but if you've compared them to powered studio monitors like I regularly have (I own three) then it is obvious that the bass is severely lacking in level although within its limits it is excellent. If you plough through all the reams of commentary about speakers on the net you will constantly find denials by owners of pretty well any speakers you can think of that their beloved speaker has any faults at all. It's generally a smarter bet to take note of ex-owners of the speaker or other people with no axe to grind if you want to make a buying decision based on their advice.

morganc

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #16 on: 14 Aug 2020, 05:59 am »
Speculating about now the Sapphire range performs based on experience with non-Sapphire speakers is ludicrous.

Agreed. Having owned the M3TM and now the X-5's thy have little in common....now Tekton and Zu with the same drivers and tweeters have a very clear house sound, Spatial much less so IMO. 

Tyson

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #17 on: 14 Aug 2020, 07:13 pm »
I heard the prior generation of Spatial speakers and I'd agree, a bit light in the bass and a bit shouty (for my tastes).  But the latest generation X2 I heard had completely fixed all those problems (and then some).  In fact, the year I heard it at RMAF it got our "best in show" award.  So as I said before, speculating about the sound of the current generation of Spatial speakers based on what the previous generation sounded like is... misguided.

Jean-Paul

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Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #18 on: 15 Aug 2020, 04:27 am »
I heard the prior generation of Spatial speakers and I'd agree, a bit light in the bass and a bit shouty (for my tastes).  But the latest generation X2 I heard had completely fixed all those problems (and then some).  In fact, the year I heard it at RMAF it got our "best in show" award.  So as I said before, speculating about the sound of the current generation of Spatial speakers based on what the previous generation sounded like is... misguided.

Well, the old and new do share a number of design principles, notably the use of open-baffles. Now, out of the hundreds of speaker manufacturers, how many of them are designing open-baffle? Three, maybe, and none distributed through hi-fi retailers. So, why is this? Could it be that open-baffles - despite their advantages -  just don't carry the bass that consumers want? Even a massive open-baffle design, like GR Research's XTreme, requires additional subwoofers to achieve full-range bass. Now, SA's X range does have powered bass drivers, no doubt with hefty electronic boost, to compensate but the Sapphire is fully passive and so I seriously doubt that it will compete in this area with powered studio monitors. My M4's have two 12 inch woofers and they have far and away the least bass of all the speakers or headphones I own (apart from the Apogee Stage). But apparently the Sapphires overturn the laws of physics. I have no doubt they do lots of things brilliantly but full-range bass? My technical knowledge is rudimentary but don't open baffles start rolling off at 6 Db an octave beginning at the wavelength from front to rear of the speaker - about 18 inches in the Sapphire range? So how do they manage full-range bass?

Tyson

Re: Shopping for new speakers
« Reply #19 on: 15 Aug 2020, 08:03 pm »
Well, the old and new do share a number of design principles, notably the use of open-baffles. Now, out of the hundreds of speaker manufacturers, how many of them are designing open-baffle? Three, maybe, and none distributed through hi-fi retailers. So, why is this? Could it be that open-baffles - despite their advantages -  just don't carry the bass that consumers want? Even a massive open-baffle design, like GR Research's XTreme, requires additional subwoofers to achieve full-range bass. Now, SA's X range does have powered bass drivers, no doubt with hefty electronic boost, to compensate but the Sapphire is fully passive and so I seriously doubt that it will compete in this area with powered studio monitors. My M4's have two 12 inch woofers and they have far and away the least bass of all the speakers or headphones I own (apart from the Apogee Stage). But apparently the Sapphires overturn the laws of physics. I have no doubt they do lots of things brilliantly but full-range bass? My technical knowledge is rudimentary but don't open baffles start rolling off at 6 Db an octave beginning at the wavelength from front to rear of the speaker - about 18 inches in the Sapphire range? So how do they manage full-range bass?

Ah, so you just don't like OB bass and prefer your powered M4 speakers.  That's fair. 

Re: full range bass in an OB, it does roll off like you say.  But that can be compensated for with the crossover.  What you need is a lot of displacement from the woofer.  I'm not sure what the Vas is for the woofer in the Sapphire series, but just looking at it, it seems to be quite a bit more robust than in the prior generation. 

Also you are wrong that there are not many companies that do OB.  Remember, all electrostatic (Martin Logan) and planar magnetic speakers (Magnepan) are OB too.  Some use box bass, some don't.  So, you know, there might be something to this whole OB approach after all. 

I will say this, if an OB speaker is full range and doesn't have a powered bass section, then you really do need a pretty stout amp to match it well especially if you listen to rock, rap or electronic music.  100 watts from a really solid/robust amp would be my recommendation.  But those are not that hard to find.  Even among AC vendors you could use DAC, Odyssey, Modwright or Vinnie Rossi, all would be great.  However, if the bass section of the OB is powered (like in the X series), then low powered amps become excellent matches for driving the top half of the speaker. 

Re: the whole OB vs box thing, personally I'm pretty neutral on the whole topic.  Which is why I have planar magnetic OB speakers with powered woofers in my downstairs system and box based speakers in my upstairs system.