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Neutral bookshelf speakers @ $2000?

raistlin65

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Hifinews

Search these keywords should give you some results of any measurements:
"Speaker's name + measurements/test/bench/review"
Measurements usually at the end of the sites.
Additional tip: I also find that it can be quicker sometimes to google the make/model of a speaker and the term measurements, and then look at the image search results as any graphs will typically show up there.
 
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Ascend acoustics Sierra 2 and the Buchardt s400’s may be worth a look too. Both have published measurements which are comparable to the kef r3’s and revel m106’s.
 

watchnerd

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Wharfedale Evo 4.4
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=168122.msg1783002#msg1783002

by I.Greyhound Fan

[ My son purchased a pair of Wharfedale Evo 4.4 tower speakers 2 weeks ago after hearing them and falling in love with them at RMAF last September. We both thought that the Wharfedale room with the Evo's was in our top 10 rooms. They were paired with all Primare electronics and the sound was stunning for a $2K pair of speaker.

The speakers have about 70 hours of break in about now and they have changed dramatically for the better. I am stunned at how good these speakers are. The large AMT tweeter creates such air and transparency without the slightest hint of harshness. The top end is both detailed and smooth. The mid range has good texture and bass is powerful, tight with good slam. It is musical and deep. Bass is only 48hz at +/- 3db and 38hz +/-6db but it sounds much deeper thanks to the cabinet design and down firing port. In fact, at RMAF many people that walked into the room were asking where the subwoofers were. These speakers are a departure from the typical warm sound of Wharfedale although they do have a hint or warmth but are more closer to neutral. They present an almost 3D sound that is resolving, airey, clear and detailed without losing mid range depth.

I am just astounded at how smooth and no fatiguing they sound. My son auditioned KEF R5, 7 and 11's, Martin Logan XT's, Golden Ear speakers among others, and none had the combination of clarity, detail, resolution, smoothness and bass that the Wharfedales have. ]

https://www.wharfedale.co.uk/evo4-4/
Uh huh.

Anybody can write nice sentences.
 

Ron Texas

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I have no direct experience, but the Wharfdale Linton Heritage received some good reviews, $1500 with dedicatd stands. It's a large baffle design.

Having owned B&W's I agree with those who don't like them.

After 2 years, I still like my LS50's. For some reason bashing them is a hobby around here. At $900 they are a steal.
 

adm

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I would also vote for the NHT C3, which I have had for a little over a year now. They are a bit of a unicorn, being a three-way design and acoustic suspension. Since they are so neutral, they are very revealing of what you are using upstream. They are average (moderate) sensitivity but in my opinion, they need at least 70 to 100 watts per channel to really sing. I ended up upgrading my amp, cables, and turntable and I now feel I am getting the full benefit of what they have to offer. I find my Rega Elex-R amp is a great match for the C3s with 90 watts per channel into their 6 ohm load. The Rega amp also adds just a touch of warmth and excitement to the sound without detracting from neutrality. I have not heard them but based on what I have read, Ascend also has a good reputation for neutrality in this price range. I believe all of their speakers are assembled in the United States. Of more mainstream brands, I would vote for Revel. I would still prefer NHT over these other brands, since they are acoustic suspension rather than ported (personal bias). But you also cannot go wrong with Ascend or Revel if you are looking for neutrality at this price range.
 
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Newly registered audiophile newbie. I just wanted to offer my thanks for this thread. I’m not sure if I wished to have found it before embarking on my 2ch odyssey or not. Reading this before would have informed my subjective evaluation, likely saving me some real frustration, but denying me the learning experience.
Not exactly the same comparison but I’ve been struggling mightily in deciding between the Sierra 2EX and Revel Performa M105 (not the larger 106). I chose these (among a couple of others) to audition based on curves and consistent / positive reviews. As a point of reference I also consider myself quite fortunate to own a pair of Phil Audio BMR. Dennis is a real gem and stand up guy.
I only want to offer that, considering very different drivers and perceived engineering prowess, I expected the two to sound noticeably different in spite of similar curve sets. I’m surprised I didn’t wear the coating off the banana plugs and binding posts in swapping one pair for the other, in what I thought to be very critical listening comparisons of several selections across dissimilar genres, only to conclude they are virtually indistinguishable in most respects to my inexperienced ears. Other than one random example of Sierra low end extension in many hours of general listening I’m not sure the M105 could have matched, I’m not at all confident I would have identified or preferred one or the other in a blind test.
For reasons other than listening tests (WAF, etc) the Sierras are boxed up waiting return authorization while the M105 are in place, though with the plastic wrap still intact (except the baffles of course). One significant reason for settling on the M105 is FOMO. Going back to engineering prowess, my perception is the M105s will grow with me as I gain experience, revealing details the Sierras would not as I learn how to listen and what to listen for.
There remains valid reasons for choosing the M105 over the Sierras but, based on this thread, I’m now not so sure FOMO should be one of them. I suppose this question straddles the line of subjectivity vs objectivity so will ask anyone still tuned into this conversation to comment.
Thanks again.
 

adm

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This my run a little bit against the grain of this site but I think speaker choice is ultimately objective and subjective. Measurements are important and will help weed out obviously colored and inaccurate choices but they do not always tell the whole story. The human ear is also pretty good at detecting coloration as well if one is an experienced listener. Two speakers that measure well can sound different and someone may subjectively prefer one over the other. Both brands (Revel and Ascend) you mentioned would be on my A-list at this price range. You cannot go wrong with either of these speakers. It is interesting that you believed the Revel to have the ability to reveal more detail, since I would have assumed the ribbon tweeter on the Ascend would be more detailed. But the most important thing is that you trust your own ears. Another subjective factor that would make me lean toward the Ascend is that all Ascend speakers are assembled in the United States. This may be the only American made choice at this price range.
 
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This my run a little bit against the grain of this site but I think speaker choice is ultimately objective and subjective.
Yeah. That’s why I tried to lean on the objective as much as possible. One of many comments in the thread that stuck with me is one would expect them to sound very similar because the curves are so similar. Because the tweeter technologies are fundamentally different I expected the subjective sound to be different*, regardless of the curves. I was surprised to find the former was closer to my experience.
I also thought the question was consistent with the OP’s question about neutrality as I thought tweeter technology might affect someone’s perception of neutrality regardless of the curves. So I’m hoping my experience may help someone else in a similar situation.
Off topic, my belief that a domed tweeter may be more capable of revealing details than a ribbon are rooted in my relative ignorance of the technologies and my general but limited experience that domed tweeters, to my aging ears, seem to be brighter than ribbons, again influencing perceived neutrality. Maybe this is me incorrectly equating brightness with detail which is probably discussed elsewhere.
* In my mind the raging ribbon wars don’t help. Comments like “head in a vice” leave an impression that ribbons are inferior or fundamentally different in some way. Flawed or not, that too contributes to my impression of neutrality.
 

adm

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Thanks for your response. Another factor to consider is that ribbons are more directional than dome tweeters. I have not checked to see if this is borne out by objective measurements but it is possible that the ribbon may be more detailed on axis but less so off axis. Few people are going to listen to a loudspeaker directly on axis. I have limited experience with ribbons and do not have a basis for comparison. However, it would not surprise me that because of the ribbon's limited off-axis dispersion, the dome tweeter may sound more detailed under "real world" listening conditions. If someone could produce objective measurements that could confirm or deny this hypothesis, it would be helpful.
 

napilopez

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Thanks for your response. Another factor to consider is that ribbons are more directional than dome tweeters. I have not checked to see if this is borne out by objective measurements but it is possible that the ribbon may be more detailed on axis but less so off axis. Few people are going to listen to a loudspeaker directly on axis. I have limited experience with ribbons and do not have a basis for comparison. However, it would not surprise me that because of the ribbon's limited off-axis dispersion, the dome tweeter may sound more detailed under "real world" listening conditions. If someone could produce objective measurements that could confirm or deny this hypothesis, it would be helpful.
You have it backwards, it seems. The typical ribbon will have wider horizontal directivity than the typical dome, or at least will have wide directivity to higher frequencies. That's usually what we're talking about when we talk about directionality.

However, ribbons will have narrower vertical directivity, but this is arguably a good thing as it minimizes the SPL of reflections that are understood to be more detrimental than horizontal ones.

@2DFlier I would not be concerned about a "head in a vice" effect with ribbons unless you are listening from very close where small changes in height could affect things.
 
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You have it backwards, it seems. The typical ribbon will have wider horizontal directivity than the typical dome, or at least will have wide directivity to higher frequencies. That's usually what we're talking about when we talk about directionality.

However, ribbons will have narrower vertical directivity, but this is arguably a good thing as it minimizes the SPL of reflections that are understood to be more detrimental than horizontal ones.

@2DFlier I would not be concerned about a "head in a vice" effect with ribbons unless you are listening from very close where small changes in height could affect things.
Thank you.
 
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veeceem

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Thread Starter #254
This my run a little bit against the grain of this site but I think speaker choice is ultimately objective and subjective. Measurements are important and will help weed out obviously colored and inaccurate choices but they do not always tell the whole story. The human ear is also pretty good at detecting coloration as well if one is an experienced listener. Two speakers that measure well can sound different and someone may subjectively prefer one over the other. Both brands (Revel and Ascend) you mentioned would be on my A-list at this price range. You cannot go wrong with either of these speakers. It is interesting that you believed the Revel to have the ability to reveal more detail, since I would have assumed the ribbon tweeter on the Ascend would be more detailed. But the most important thing is that you trust your own ears. Another subjective factor that would make me lean toward the Ascend is that all Ascend speakers are assembled in the United States. This may be the only American made choice at this price range.
The thread is about picking speakers based on measurements (mostly). So keep posting with a name and a measurement or discussing about a specific pair of speakers (with proof?) would help :D
Oh and for me, Revel M16s for bedroom and Revel Salon2s for music room. Never look back.
Drive them with Anthem STR preamp (ARC on) + Mcintosh Mc462 amplifier. Using Preamp's DAC.
All gears purchased based on measurements (blind purchases I'd say) :D no complaints so far :D I can now focus on listening to music and leave everything else behind instead of worrying about myth-without-proof :)
 
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Interesting comments, measurements, comparison of Sierra 2 and 2EX.
From Ascend's Sierra 2EX introduction presenting benefits of the new SEAS woofer:

"This new woofer brings a few things to the table...
The extremely low inductance combined with a new damping treatment being used on the Curv cone provides improved self-damping...and greater high frequency extension and detail.
Because of the upper end improvements, we can use a steeper high pass filter slope on the tweeter, easing the workload on the ribbon tweeter which in turn increases power handling, lowers distortion and provides for an even better overall blend between the woofer and tweeter."

I'm not familiar enough with response characteristics to understand the details, but am assuming the dip in vertical dispersion above the speaker coincides with the crossover frequency. If so the ~1200 Hz difference between Sierra 2 and Sierra 2EX seems to be quite significant with the benefits of the new woofer and higher crossover extending to improved horizontal and vertical dispersion and resultant listening window improvements.

Sierra 2_2EX Response Comparison.JPG


I understand a ribbon tweeter con is distortion at the lower end of its range. So I wonder if the crossover freq change will have an effect on what is questioned to be tweeter distortion in the ASR Sierra 2 measurements.

Sierra 2 Distortion.JPG
 
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Yeah I'm aware of that, that's why this blind purchase is quite a risk for me. But, I've heard some Wharfedale towers before and they sounded glorious to my ears, so I'm being hopeful.


I own a Loxjie A10, do you think it is good enough for these speakers? 70w @ 4 Ohms might be hard I figure.
Hey did you get on OK with the Wharfedales? I've been looking at the 4.1's.
 

bunkbail

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Hey did you get on OK with the Wharfedales? I've been looking at the 4.1's.
Sorry just saw this comment. Yup I'm very happy with them. The most impressive thing about these speakers is that they throw a super wide soundstage into the room with perfectly stable center image. The midrange is just perfect (the vocals are to die for, really). Just thought that the bass could be better, as it is quite bass shy (pretty much no slam and doesn't dig deep at all). They also sound quite warmish and feels that the clarity is a notch inferior to my last speaker which was the KEF Q350.
 
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Sorry just saw this comment. Yup I'm very happy with them. The most impressive thing about these speakers is that they throw a super wide soundstage into the room with perfectly stable center image. The midrange is just perfect (the vocals are to die for, really). Just thought that the bass could be better, as it is quite bass shy (pretty much no slam and doesn't dig deep at all). They also sound quite warmish and feels that the clarity is a notch inferior to my last speaker which was the KEF Q350.
Thanks for that! Really useful, I ended up grabbing some second hand monitor audio Silver RS1's after listening up against the wharfedales, ELAC 6.2's.. they didn't have as much clarity in the highs, or quite as much soundstage but for half the price they sound awesome. Not much base on them either.
 

Otaku+

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Regarding the Wharfedale EVO 4.2s, a magazine named HiFi World published a set of rather heavily smoothed measurements several months ago.

I had been interested in acquiring a pair of these prior to settling on my current XTZ 99.25 LCRs, which I now believe to be the flattest speakers available in Europe under €1,000. They are quite similar to the Ascend Sierra 2EX but utilize Fountek rather than RAAL ribbons. I will follow up with measurements soon.

For now, here are HiFi World's measurements of the 4.2s.

Screenshot 2020-06-24 at 22.36.04.png

According to their article, the dip above 100Hz is room-induced. My apologies for the poor image quality; this is the only source available to me.
 
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ernestcarl

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Regarding the Wharfedale EVO 4.2s, a magazine named HiFi World published a set of rather heavily smoothed measurements several months ago.

I had been interested in acquiring a pair of these prior to settling on my current XTZ 99.25 LCRs, which I now believe to be the flattest speakers available in Europe under €1,000.
I’ve seen worse. Whenever one mentions the flatness of a speaker, I always take that as conditional information/anecdotally. There’s a lot of flat/neutral speakers out there, sure... but only on-axis. More detailed/higher resolution measurements are always welcome, though.
 
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