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Passive Speaker Recommendations for USA (by @sweetchaos)

beaRA

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Missing Polk XT30 (3.4 PS) in the 2-way under $200 category and Polk XT35 (3.8 PS) in the 2-way under $300 category.
 
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sweetchaos

sweetchaos

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sweetchaos

sweetchaos

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fieldcar

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If anyone wanted to purchase the Monoprice THX-365C (3-way center channel), it's currently US$400 (down from $500 or 20% off) at target.com
Just make sure to send it to Amir or Erin first.
Man. Very tempting after his slaughtering of my poor little 520C. It's still a bit too much cash when I can go up into my attic and pull out my JBL s38ii for center channel duties.


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H-RYCAJ

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Given that several Kef speakers have measured relatively well on ASR. Is it possible the Kef Q150 contends the top 3 spots for the sub 500$ range?
 
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sweetchaos

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pfgiv

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It seems like there are a few major players in here repeatedly (KEF, Revel), but wonder about other brands and why there is no recognition. Focal makes some great speakers that should likely be on the list somewhere. Would love to see how they stack up against the Revels.
 

luft262

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Why no Focal 906's in this list? Amir reviewed them and liked them...
 
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sweetchaos

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luft262

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Since there are 18 passive speakers ahead of Focal 906's preference score of 5.6 and below their price.
How about scores with a sub included? Lol
 

luft262

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Since there are 18 passive speakers ahead of Focal 906's preference score of 5.6 and below their price.
I appreciate this list and the other lists you've made Sweetchaos, so thank you. But I'd just like to point out that if you limit the search to passive speakers (only stand mount or tower) and you add a subwoofer then there are only 5 speakers that measure better than the Focal 906. One, the Philharmonic, is discontinued. One, the Revel F208, is a $2,500 each tower speaker. The SVS was not recommended by Amir, despite good measurement scores. If you remove those you're left with just the Revel M106 and Kef R3. The Revel, by Armin's own admission, could be have reviewer bias, since his company sells Revel. If you compare only bookshelf speakers, you add a sub, and you remove discontinued products the Focal 906 is at worst the third best and (removing potential bias) the 2nd best bookshelf reviewed. And they all cost $1,000 per speaker.

I only bring this up because #1 I'm a Focal fanboy and #2 depending on how closely you read the recommendations a speaker can go from 18th to 2nd.

Thanks again. Keep up the amazing work. It benefits us all and I've personally used your lists in the past to help make decisions, so I appreciate it.

*As a side note I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't add a sub. As can be seen in the scores an $80 speaker with a sub outperforms the best non-sub score that came from an $8,000 Revel tower speaker. You'd have to go down the list over 50 speakers to get a speaker sub combo that doesn't outperform the best non-sub score. So listening without a sub is IMHO a horrible idea! Bang for your buck a sub will improve even a medium to poor speaker above the results of the best of tower speaker, score-wise.

**Since IMHO speakers will always sound better with a sub the scoring without a sub is of less importance as I'd never run a system without a sub anyway. I mean based on the results a random high-schooler with bookshelf or tower speakers from Wal-Mart with a sub might give a lot of other speakers a good run for their money.

***I guess if someone were to ask for my advice on buying speakers (and they probably shouldn't as I'm not a professional or even super well informed) I'd probably say:

#1 Get a sub. If I'm reading your totally awesome index correctly even basic speakers with a sub will outperform well designed, high-end speakers without a sub.

#2. If you're using this index and you are already using a sub you basically have a few Revel, Kef, SVS, and Focal speakers to choose from. If you value Amir's subjective opinion the SVS are out. If you're bothered by the potential bias for Revel then they're out too, which leaves Focal and Kef. If those things don't bother you you can pick from all four.

#3. You can get 90%+ of the way to great sound without the perfect speaker as long as you use a sub (reinforcing #1)

#4. If you want to take performance to the absolute top you'll need to spend about $1,000 per speaker and get a sub.

*#5. This is my humble opinion, but if you want to get the most out of your system after doing all of the above, you'll need some sort of mic to use with REW (probably a Umik-1) and some sort of DSP. Make sure to have both so you can get the positioning as good as possible and then use the DSP to improve things from there. That's going to be more important than the best possible SINAD.

*#6. I think this is the least important, but still important, get your DAC, AMP, AVR, whatever to have the best SINAD/measurements etc. possible.

Thanks again for your contributions, you're famous around here!

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Ml2316

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Seems like the jbl a130 is missing from at least one price category if not two.
 

Tom C

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It’s important to note that nobody should make a buying decision based on Harman score alone. The score is not intended by anybody to be used that way. It can help to summarize some of the important speaker’s characteristics for purposes of performance evaluation, but completely excludes, for example, power handling capacity. Speakers can be designed for particular purpose, such as near-field desktop versus six-driver behemoth intended to fill a large, opulent living space. The score does not distinguish between these two. The Neumann KH 80 measures nearly perfectly and scores with sub are good, but I wouldn’t use it except for the desktop use intended by the designers. It would tend to be under powered for a large room.
I like easy, but there’s more to it than just looking at the score. Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler (Einstein).
 

amper42

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It’s important to note that nobody should make a buying decision based on Harman score alone. The score is not intended by anybody to be used that way. It can help to summarize some of the important speaker’s characteristics for purposes of performance evaluation, but completely excludes, for example, power handling capacity. Speakers can be designed for particular purpose, such as near-field desktop versus six-driver behemoth intended to fill a large, opulent living space. The score does not distinguish between these two. The Neumann KH 80 measures nearly perfectly and scores with sub are good, but I wouldn’t use it except for the desktop use intended by the designers. It would tend to be under powered for a large room.
I like easy, but there’s more to it than just looking at the score. Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler (Einstein).

I totally agree. The Harmon score is absolutely worthless for making a purchase without listening to the speakers. If the reader doesn't understand that fact, they can easily be misled into buying a high scoring speaker that they would never purchase if they were auditioning speakers with music at home.

There is nothing in the presentation of Harmon spreadsheet data indicating this is true, which leads to poor purchasing decisions by many. A disclaimer would be helpful for readers. Some think if the Harmon score can't be used as the main factor for purchase decisions, then what use is it. That's an entirely different more complicated topic. :D
 

Ml2316

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I totally agree. The Harmon score is absolutely worthless for making a purchase without listening to the speakers. If the reader doesn't understand that fact, they can easily be misled into buying a high scoring speaker that they would never purchase if they were auditioning speakers with music at home.

There is nothing in the presentation of Harmon spreadsheet data indicating this is true, which leads to poor purchasing decisions by many. A disclaimer would be helpful for readers. Some think if the Harmon score can't be used as the main factor for purchase decisions, then what use is it. That's an entirely different more complicated topic. :D
Objective scores are useful. But what would also be useful would be like a metacritic for speakers. Simple probabilistic reasoning dictates that if a large percentage of people in a sample like something, then you are likely to like it too. Whereas it's not clear what exactly the Harmon score is predicting or why.
 
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