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Realistic Sounding Speakers

noobie1

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#1
I'm trying to find the best speakers for my budget (TBD). Everyone's definition of best is different but for me it would be the one sounding most real- as if the performer was in your living room - so that you're swimming in the sound. What are important things I need to look for in a speaker? I imagine a list would include - good dynamics, timbre accuracy, etc. What other things would you look for?
 

Purité Audio

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#2
Rather than thinking about the performer being in your living room consider instead which loudspeaker will most accurately reproduce the record/cd/file of that performer.
Keith
 

RayDunzl

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#3
What are important things I need to look for in a speaker?
Dispersion characteristics which fit your idea of "swimming in sound".

---

I have both wide dispersion - JBL LSR 308 - and narrow - Martin Logan reQuest dipole.

I prefer the reQuests for critical listening - to me, a much more focused image. A (measurably when I measure it) greater ratio of sound aimed at the sweet spot listener (direct sound) than bouncing around my non-deadened room (reflections creating some artificial sounding widening).

Impulse Response at equivalent pink noise levels (each with their own DRC settings).
Red JBL
Green MartinLogan

Normalized, overlapping display

upload_2017-6-8_13-9-44.png


Not normalized, JBL offset .5ms:

upload_2017-6-8_16-15-18.png


My take on this is there are many more delayed sounds hitting the mic from the wide dispersion JBL than from the more narrow dispersion MartinLogan. Result to me? More modification of the sound by the room? I suppose it becomes preference.

For casual listening, after EQ, I have no preference. The little JBL gets used a lot. Like right now.

---

If you really want to swim, I suppose multichannel is the way to go, even though I have no experience (that's right, none!) with that kind of setup.
 
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fas42

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#4
What you're looking for is an attribute of the system, in which the speaker is just one part. IME this sort of behaviour depends very heavily on the electronics side, the quality of the chain up to the speakers. The amplifier is a key player, and the best you can acquire could make all the difference. The other thing is to make the speakers as stable as possible in their location - "lock" them into position by some means.
 

amirm

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#5
I think you are stating an ideal which we would all want to have. But stereo can't produce that and a lot of what we praise there are in the recording.

What type of music do you like?
 

noobie1

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#6
What you're looking for is an attribute of the system, in which the speaker is just one part. IME this sort of behaviour depends very heavily on the electronics side, the quality of the chain up to the speakers. The amplifier is a key player, and the best you can acquire could make all the difference. The other thing is to make the speakers as stable as possible in their location - "lock" them into position by some means.
By electronics, do you mean DAC/pre-AMP?

I heard a lot of high end setups at the LA Audio show but only a few of the setups gave me the feeling "I'm swimming in the music." I asked the exhibitors and their response typically had to do with the acoustics of the room, speaker size, and sound pressure levels. I imagine some of it has to do with how powerful and clear the bass frequencies are as those frequencies probably leave the greatest tactile impression on my body and probably linger in the room longer than the higher frequencies. Also was thinking along what Ray posted about dispersion. How the sound radiates from the driver seems very important in creating this sensation.
 

noobie1

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#7
I think you are stating an ideal which we would all want to have. But stereo can't produce that and a lot of what we praise there are in the recording.

What type of music do you like?
I listen to mostly jazz and classical mixed in with some pop.
 

fas42

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#8
By electronics, do you mean DAC/pre-AMP?
Indeed I do.
I heard a lot of high end setups at the LA Audio show but only a few of the setups gave me the feeling "I'm swimming in the music." I asked the exhibitors and their response typically had to do with the acoustics of the room, speaker size, and sound pressure levels. I imagine some of it has to do with how powerful and clear the bass frequencies are as those frequencies probably leave the greatest tactile impression on my body and probably linger in the room longer than the higher frequencies. Also was thinking along what Ray posted about dispersion. How the sound radiates from the driver seems very important in creating this sensation.
You might be amazed at how powerful an impression "tiny" speakers can generate if they're driven properly - the issue with the smaller units is that typically they are less sensitive, meaning that they need more amplifier power to produce the same volume as larger speakers - it works back to front to how many people would assume - that is, they think that the bigger the speaker, the bigger the amplifier needs to be. So, smaller speakers may require an amplifier with more grunt, to produce an equivalent experience.

The subjective impression of powerful and clear bass frequencies comes about because the higher frequencies, harmonics associated with the nominal note are clearly reproduced, low in distortion - a pure, very low bass frequency has no "guts" to it at all; it's all the associated sound, higher in frequency, that creates that sense of intensity.

The acoustics of the room only play a small part, if the system is sorted out sufficiently. The ability of the system to produce high sound pressure levels, cleanly, is extremely important and this will often come down to the competence of the amplifier. In shows, the natural tendency is to demo big, expensive amplifiers with big, expensive speakers - it will be rare to see a much smaller speaker used here, but the latter will do the job, if correctly set up.
 

RayDunzl

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#9
I heard a lot of high end setups at the LA Audio show but only a few of the setups gave me the feeling "I'm swimming in the music."
Name one as an example...
 

Cosmik

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#12
Could you elaborate? What are you looking for in a DAC/PreAmp when you want to swim in music?
If any DAC or pre-amp has an audible effect compared to another, at least one of them isn't actually a DAC or a pre-amp.

If anyone hopes that the DAC and pre-amp will make any difference in the swimming-in-music-stakes, they would be better advised to get a home theatre amp with various DSP effects ("Hall", "Super wide" etc.).

It is conceivable that vinyl-isation might provide some audio effects (stereo crosstalk, acoustic feedback etc.) and a valve amp might also provide some simple audio distortions (if you like that kind of thing - but you can't turn it off), but apart from that, the only thing that should make any difference is the speakers.
 

RayDunzl

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#13
Magico S7 powered by McIntosh MC601's.

The digital end included Berkeley Audio Alpha Reference 2 USB and McIntosh C1100 stack.
That's certainly looks like a contender for swimmingly good sound, especially while sitting there staring admiringly at it.

I'm trying to find the best speakers for my budget (TBD).
How's your budget estimate holding up?

---

What are you listening to at home now?
 

noobie1

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#14
I originally looked into buying speakers in the $6-8k range. And spending another $5-6k for amplifier and possibly electronics. I'm having to rethink that. If I could somehow get 80-90% magic of the Magico/McIntosh setup in a cheaper setup, I'd be willing to up my budget to 30-40k total.

Currently do mostly headphone listening (Senn HD700) using various DACs (Clarett 4pre, Teac HA-90SD, Creative Soundblaster USB DAC). I also have an old DENON integrated receiver/amplifier hooked up to my TV and some old Inifinity P363's.
 

iridium

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#15
Budget: Do you have extremely qualified & honest repair technicians in your area; if the answer is YES, buy >used<.

iridium.
 

Blumlein 88

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#16
Speakers are where most of your money needs to go. They make the largest differences.
Speakers are different enough you really need to hear them for yourself.
Next would be amps that are up to handling your chosen speaker. The rest is pretty easy and need not be terribly expensive to work at a very high level of quality. Your Clarett 4pre for instance should sound fine as a DAC/pre even with upgrades elsewhere. You might wish to go with a different DAC/pre later mostly for features and convenience.
 
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RayDunzl

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#17
I originally looked into buying speakers in the $6-8k range. And spending another $5-6k for amplifier and possibly electronics. I'm having to rethink that. If I could somehow get 80-90% magic of the Magico/McIntosh setup in a cheaper setup, I'd be willing to up my budget to 25-30k total
You've got plenty of budget.

Choosing is hard.

I tend to just get something that "looks" reasonable and make it work. Speakers were the hard part but I've been happy with mine for 18 years now.

Used, I've had good luck, no problems. Current amps, preamp, and Equitech all used, eBay and Canuck Audio sites. Along with plenty of used CDs...

and some old Inifinity P363's
I have a pair of P-363 in another room too... bought a new pair for $199.98 delivered off Amazon a couple of years ago. I haven't tried them with the miniDSP yet. I might have to whip them out and see what they'll really do. They are even wider dispersion than the JBL, so...

---

Are you into "measure and correct"?

It makes a good difference for me. Using a MiniDSP OpenDRC-DI and AcourateDRC to build the filters. I see no downside to using it.

---

I guess my setup to permit me to go "swimming in the sound". Nothing (from the system) breaks the spell when it takes hold late nights.

It's "corrected" to flat at the listening position using DRC, despite admonitions that that isn't the way to go. And adjustable to any curve/slope desired at the moment (using the Behringer). Takes about 30 seconds.
 
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Fitzcaraldo215

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#18
Yes, well, "swimming in sound" is a meaningless term from one person to another. It is a sonic metaphor I never considered before. But, now that it has been brought up for consideration, I hafta say, I am still totally lost on what it might conceivably mean. We all might interpret it in a completely different way, none of which would be congruent with whatever it is you are talking about.

So, while everybody heretofore is trying to "make nice" about your sonic objectives as a newbie, I dare say that most of our members here do not know what on earth you are talking about or how we can help you.
 

Blumlein 88

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#19
I don't know, but if your listening room isn't larger than normal one might get much the same sound in the Magico S5. That is within your budget of $40k just barely. Find a pre-owned pair and it would be within your budget.

I also might suggest listening to some of the upper Revel models like various of the Ultima series. These are within your budget.

I also agree that swimming in sound is not a common expression and could mean a number of things. If you could describe in other terms what you liked or as a counterpoint examples of what isn't to your liking it might make more sense to us.

My guess is you meant listening to music the speakers seemed to disappear leaving what sounded like real musicians in the room and not speakers shouting sound at you from a hifi.
 
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fas42

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#20
As Blumlein88, Dennis, is suggesting, you are after the sensation of the music "washing over you", in the same way as happens when listening to live musicians - it's a powerful sensation, with no downsides. Unfortunately, most hifi setups are insufficiently competent to achieve this - if you turn up the volume to deliver the necessary SPLs then all the shortcomings of the playback are far too obvious; you're unable to relax into the impact of the music, there is too much tensing of the body trying to cope with the "onslaught".

I've arrived via a completely different path from all the others speaking here, having experimented over the years to determine what matters. Surprising, and disturbing, for nearly everyone in the audio game, speakers are the least of your problems; yes, the DAC, pre-amp and amplifier are key, but what to buy off the shelf to achieve this quality is not easy to answer - my approach was to improve the working of very standard, good value for money components to achieve the necessary competence. To put it bluntly, the industry "doesn't get it", so it's not an easy solution to put together.

One approach which will get nearly everything right is, high sensitivity speakers with a good quality integrated. The right Klipsch speakers combined with a more powerful Denon integrated will deliver the "big" sound, excellent bang for the buck - there may be some audible annoyances but you should get the "swimming" from this.
 
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