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View Full Version : Looking for help in Stereo Speaker selection



ajhuff
01-25-2013, 12:25 PM
I know there are plenty of audio experts on here. You've all been helpful before.

My Dad gave me his old unused Pioneer receiver (VSX-402). Alternatively I might use my Onkyo TX-904 I'm looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers to go with it. They will actually go on a bookshelf and probably get used as bookends.

I do have a 30 year old pair of Wharfedale Delta 3 bookshelf speakers. One of the woofers is blown or at least doesn't work. The last time I inquired with Wharfedale about having them repaired I was told I am SOL. I am way out of my league on this, but could the woofer be replaced with a another brand? I know nothing of this stuff but I know how to click "BUY" on the internet. Is this an option or best just to buy a set of something recommended? I had high hopes with Orange County Speakers but even they said it was slim chances of success.

So the catch is I don't want to spend a lot of money. Usually I buy very good mid end to lower high end stuff, but not looking to this time. You know, I'm looking for a great $300 gyuto not a $700+ one. :biggrin: But I still want something better than a $29 pair of Emersons from Big Lots. They will be used only for CDs (which I currently listen to through the TV speakers) and listening to the news on the radio. The shelves are 9" deep so that is a limitation too.

They will have to be something shipped. Craigslist rarely works for me because anything on there is at least a 2 hour drive away. So eBay or online merchant. Which also means I can't listen ahead of time. I would if I could but the only stores in my area are Home Depot, Big Lots, Walmart and the grocery. It would be an all day affair to listen to speakers. So I'm trusting you guys for advice.

I have a short list of speakers I am considering, Would love some help whittling it down or any other suggestions:

Mirage m190i
Wharfedale Diamond 3
Wharfedale Diamond 6R
NHT Superone XU
Polk Audio Monitor 30
MB Quart 280
MB Quart QLC104

Thanks,

-AJ

mhlee
01-25-2013, 12:37 PM
I just purchased speakers a couple a months ago and listened to number of brands. While I didn't listen to many bookshelf speakers, I was impressed with the PSB speakers that I listened to. I know they make a good range of bookshelf speakers.

I was impressed with the natural sound, warmth and tone of the speakers, as well as the balance of sound (not overly tinny in the highs or boomy in the midrange, upper bass) and compared them directly to Monitor Audio speakers that I ultimately ended up buying. If you look online, there are a number of reviews of PSB bookshelf speakers.

EdipisReks
01-25-2013, 12:52 PM
PSB is a good choice.

rahimlee54
01-25-2013, 01:01 PM
Short answer to the repair question is no. A budget would be good but all those speakers are good, have you been out to audition anything? If you wanted to try online with in home trial emotiva is suppose to be nice but I have no experience.

The onkyo should be good as well. I personally have custom finished speakers from www.salksound.com I have heard the whole line up and have enjoyed all of them.

Jared

mhlee
01-25-2013, 01:17 PM
Emotiva is also a good option based on their return policy from what I've read. They have a 30 day return period; the buyer is responsible for shipping the product back.

WildBoar
01-25-2013, 01:18 PM
NHTs are always great, as are PSBs. I would go for a model with a front-firing port since the speakers will be almost back against the vertical surface.

stereo.pete
01-25-2013, 01:28 PM
Mirage today is a shadow of its' former self. Stick with PSB out of those choices. I would also look into Dynaudio but you may need a higher current amp to make them shine.

If you don't mind stepping away from of the big brand names who spend a ton on marketing, take a look at audiocircle.com. That is my favorite audiophile forum and they have a lot of direct to customer vendors. For example, if you want amazing looking and incredible sounding speakers you could also check salk sound.

shaneg
01-25-2013, 01:29 PM
Just grab those polk audio ones from what youve listed.
If youre happy with the tv speakers youll be happy with those, they all seem to be older models? also those mb quarts are 4ohm so will need to be run through an amp that can supply it.
Check your selections out at audiokarma org


My father is a massive audiophile, im talking $80,000+ worth of gear sitting in his lounge!
Its a very expensive hobby, he can move his speakers an inch and the sound completely changes, the thing with most speakers is they need to be matched to a good setup, power amp, pre amp, good cables, floor spikes the list goes on.

His setup if anyone is interested:

Meridian 808 cd player
Quad elite pre amp
Quad elite power amp
Shahinian Acoustics Hawk Sub Woofers, these fetch insane amounts.
Unsure of his latest loudspeakers but around 6 grand each i think.
Kimberly Kables at $150 a metre..
Its crazy.

mhlee
01-25-2013, 01:29 PM
Can you tell us a few things, AJ?

1. What kinds of music do you mostly listen to? Can you tell us three or four major categories of music you listen to, in order from most to least?

2. What do you care about most when you're listening to music? Vocals? A certain instrument? Bass?

3. Are you looking for a plain black speaker?

FWIW, I just started using my Onkyo TX-844 again, a 60 x 2, receiver that I bought in 1990. It sounded better to me than a current model Pioneer AV receiver when connected to the speakers I bought, compared to what I listened to at a store - the Pioneer Receiver that I listened to was connected to speakers a model lower than what I bought. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the Onkyo.

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 01:46 PM
I will throw my opinions into the mix as well. I have built a few 20k+ systems for people in the last few years. Mhlee is correct in that we need to know the major categories of music you listen. However, we also need to know whether you listen to MP3's from an Ipod dock often or to uncompressed LP's (like me), or if you only listen to cd's and are planning to never move to either of the other 2. If the former, pretty much anything under a $1,000 will get you what you are looking for, including everything on the list you mentioned. However, I would stay away from mirage as their customer service and quality has taken a serious nose dive in the past few years.

But, if you appreciate the true nature of uncompressed music from LP's or even uncompressed digital tracks then the small nuances of not only the speakers themselves, but also the receiver, the room dynamics, the interplay of the aforementioned, and etc will all come into play. People talk about knives being a rabbit hole....but entertainment centers are about as deep as it gets.

I would also throw into the mix, depending on the FLEXIBILITY of your budget, EMP. Here is a link for an online authorized dealer. I use RBH for my entertainment room, and EMP in my bedroom. Both are incredible...but unless you are willing to drop $7-15k on speakers alone I would stay away from RBH.
http://store.audioholics.com/brand/emp.html

Hope this helps,

Regards,
Chris

tgraypots
01-25-2013, 02:09 PM
In regards to the Wharfedales, is the actual woofer busted or just the gasket around the woofer? I'm not a high end stereo kind of guy, but have easily replaced the gaskets on a pair of 15" woofers of my own.

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 02:23 PM
Thanks for the great details!!!

I have 2 Onkyos. My personal den model is a TX-38 I bought in high school around 1986. So, I like Onkyo. :doublethumbsup: Really any of the three receivers could be used I just already have the Pioneer sitting on the dresser. My plan is not a home theater system. I'm not connecting the TV or DVD player. Nor is it a full sound system. Rather than buying new CD player I plan on hooking up my old instantly obsolete Phillips CDR880 player. And that's it. No turntable. With rare exception I only listen to MP3s with ear buds. I've never connected my player to my stereo though I suppose I could one day.

Music tastes run the full gamut. I have foolishly acquired some 2000 CDs. Current rotation is Drivin' N' Cryin', Golden Earring, Susan Tedeschi, The White Stripes, Television and when I get in the mood Dave Brubeck or Dave Gould.

All of the speakers in my list are used off eBay. Like I said, an opportunity to hear anything in person is not available so experienced advice is greatly appreciated.

Oh yeah, all of these are in the $150 range delivered.

Thanks!

-AJ

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 02:26 PM
In regards to the Wharfedales, is the actual woofer busted or just the gasket around the woofer? I'm not a high end stereo kind of guy, but have easily replaced the gaskets on a pair of 15" woofers of my own.

Hi Tom,

I can't see any sign of tears, rips, rot, etc. They really still look brand new, just no sound comes out of the woofer, just the tweeter.

-AJ

WildBoar
01-25-2013, 03:03 PM
Can you check the wiring going to the woofers? I would look around inside the speaker enclosure. There may be a removeable plate where the speaker terminals are located, or you should be able to remove the woofer fasteners and pull the woofer out. Don't give up on them yet.

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 03:22 PM
I could be wrong, but I believe the enclosures on those are sealed....and removing the terminals is probably a bad idea, as it could lead to an entirely non working speaker.

But, if they are the woofers should have 3-5 screws holding them in. Just unscrew them and carefully lift out the sub.




Can you check the wiring going to the woofers? I would look around inside the speaker enclosure. There may be a removeable plate where the speaker terminals are located, or you should be able to remove the woofer fasteners and pull the woofer out. Don't give up on them yet.

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 04:11 PM
If you are set on replacing your speakers, you are going to need to match the individual speaker set to the receiver. Onkyo tends to be bright and nasally, accentuating the upper mid and high frequencies, while Pioneer tends to be very mellow and a bit muddling on the low end receivers. Assuming you are not going to be using a separate amplifier, all 3 receivers you listed are slightly under powered depending on the room size you are looking at putting it in, so regardless you will need a speaker set that is easy to drive with low constant input. Here are my humble suggestions from what I know of the receivers and the speaker sets you listed.

WD3- Either Onkyo

WD 6R- pioneer

Mirage- STAY AWAY

NHT- Pioneer or Onkyo---leaning toward onkyo because these are not known to have the best mid to high separation- so they may be muddled with the pioneer

MB (Either Set)- Too hard to drive- you will need better receivers or an external amplifier, or you will probably regret it.

To give you some other input. Ohm rating is a measure of the speaker impedance. While the listed sensitivity (db) is a measure of driver efficiency.

For instance, if a speaker is 86db @ 6ohms or 87dB @ 8ohms, both will be relatively hard to drive. Keep in mind when looking at speaker sets, for approximately every 3db increase of sensitivity, you are doubling output per line watt and thus lowering the power requirement for driving the speaker.

Hope this helps,
Chris

Lucretia
01-25-2013, 04:23 PM
A small bookshelf speaker that used to be known as being a bang for the buck was the Minimus-7 from Radio Shack. They don't sell them any more, but you can pick up a pair on eBay for not too much $$. Hubby is the pick one in the speaker department, and we have a couple of sets. Very nice sound for little speakers.

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 04:52 PM
Can you check the wiring going to the woofers? I would look around inside the speaker enclosure. There may be a removeable plate where the speaker terminals are located, or you should be able to remove the woofer fasteners and pull the woofer out. Don't give up on them yet.

Oh they are easy to take out. Four screw on the front and lift right out. Wiring looks good to my eye. I don't see any breaks. Terminals look good. Everything looks very clean.

-AJ

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 04:56 PM
If you are set on replacing your speakers, you are going to need to match the individual speaker set to the receiver. Onkyo tends to be bright and nasally, accentuating the upper mid and high frequencies, while Pioneer tends to be very mellow and a bit muddling on the low end receivers. Assuming you are not going to be using a separate amplifier, all 3 receivers you listed are slightly under powered depending on the room size you are looking at putting it in, so regardless you will need a speaker set that is easy to drive with low constant input. Here are my humble suggestions from what I know of the receivers and the speaker sets you listed.

WD3- Either Onkyo

WD 6R- pioneer

Mirage- STAY AWAY

NHT- Pioneer or Onkyo---leaning toward onkyo because these are not known to have the best mid to high separation- so they may be muddled with the pioneer

MB (Either Set)- Too hard to drive- you will need better receivers or an external amplifier, or you will probably regret it.

To give you some other input. Ohm rating is a measure of the speaker impedance. While the listed sensitivity (db) is a measure of driver efficiency.

For instance, if a speaker is 86db @ 6ohms or 87dB @ 8ohms, both will be relatively hard to drive. Keep in mind when looking at speaker sets, for approximately every 3db increase of sensitivity, you are doubling output per line watt and thus lowering the power requirement for driving the speaker.

Hope this helps,
Chris

Chris could you explain what too hard to drive means? My college days are long behind me so I was looking for something to provide back ground music in the bed room. No keg parties. :D I don't foresee me cranking these trying to send music through the whole house. But that might not be at all what you mean. The room is approximately 20 x 15.

Thanks,

-AJ

keithsaltydog
01-25-2013, 04:59 PM
A small bookshelf speaker that used to be known as being a bang for the buck was the Minimus-7 from Radio Shack. They don't sell them any more, but you can pick up a pair on eBay for not too much $$. Hubby is the pick one in the speaker department, and we have a couple of sets. Very nice sound for little speakers.

The top of the line PSB bookshelf are hard to beat at the price.As you know speaker position is important,because of the way soundwaves travel.

About 10 yrs. ago I wanted to get floor speakers for music & watching Movies.I am no audio expert.Took 3 CD's Classical Barouqe chamber,Female vocal Tracy Chapman,& Dire Straits/Communique.Went to the Audio stores & listened to at least a dozen sets of floors.Ended up getting the Black PSB floors because to me they sounded the best.Never regretted that purchase.

My friend was going to buy the upper end Boise system,I suggested a Audio store hard to find these days.We found a guy who only sells PSB's.He ended getting the upper end shelf speakers & a good base unit.To me it sounds way better than any Boise system.

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 06:13 PM
"Hard or Easy to drive" is an industry term meaning a level of "efficiency", not how loud you want to push your speaker system. A speaker which is hard to drive is less efficient than a speaker that is easy to drive. Often, but not always, high end speakers are easier to drive than low end speakers and smaller speakers are easier to drive than towers. I have seen several exceptions to the above rule, but its a fair assessment for our discussion here. Being hard to drive does not make a speaker "bad" just as being "easy" to drive does not make a speaker good. It is simply one of the many personality characteristics that one looks at when pairing a speaker/receiver together. It is also one of the most important because with an inefficient speaker set paired to an under powered receiver, then this can spell difficulty even for the casual listener. It makes speaker placement, wiring, and even speaker isolation much more necessary to achieve clean sound.

My wife can hear a bad combination even at nominal sound levels, and it downright gives her a headache at reference levels. I am not as hard to please, but I can also pick out the difference quite easily, as most audio aficionados probably can. Good combinations can make music come alive, while bad combinations can bury it. Again this is regardless of sound level.

I will use an imperfect car analogy. Take 3 cars- honda civic, Porche 911, and Hummer. Each has a different efficiency, but all run wonderfully. The efficiency in this case has much to do with the body weight and size of vehicle. When you put the honda engine in a Hummer, even driving 5 miles per hour, the honda engine is going to have noticeable deficits, while the stronger Porche engine will have less deficits and may actually do well in the Hummer body. You would possibly blow the honda engine if trying to force it to high speed in the Hummer body.


The same is true with an under powered receiver and hard to drive speakers. Your sound simply will not be as good, regardless of sound level. And the higher you push the sound level the more noticeable the deficits will become. The bass will become muddy, the mids will bleed into the highs, and the highs will become ear piercing at reference levels. Not to mention the fact that if you ever do want to push them to reference levels you are going to take a serious chance of overheating the receivers built in amplifier system, causing it to blow and most likely also ruining your speakers at the same time.

As a side note: I was not trying to muddy your decision by producing a bunch of stuff you probably don't care about and most likely won't notice in your room at the sound levels you are considering. I was just trying to give some insight into why I suggested you not choose the MB's, which are actually the ones most would suggest you get.

Regards,
Chris

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 06:28 PM
Thanks Chris I really appreciate it. I only feel guilty in that I don't understand the subject better. But I'm trying!

What's funny is the MB Quarts are the ones that keep calling to me eve though I've never heard of them, nor know what they are.

-AJ

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 06:40 PM
To be honest, your intuition is correct. They are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. I just feel that your receiver is too underpowered to be able to take full advantage of them, and I would hate to recommend something and then you be disappointed.
That is actually the reason I recommended the EMP bookshelf speakers from Audioholics. They are incredibly easy to drive, and are about $450 a pair I believe. I know that it is far more $ than you wanted to put into them....but, If you buy them, you'll never tire of them. They are my go to speaker for those wanting to get into "high end" audio without the $$$$$ price tag. If you have any further questions I will do my best to explain, but I am no teacher.... as I have been told on numerous occasions.

Regards,
Chris

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 07:10 PM
Welllll..... I may regret it but I pulled the trigger on an old used pair of Quart 280s. It will end up $195 with shipping, more than I wanted to spend but my gut kept telling me it was a better speaker than the rest. I found an old review of them that raved on and on, said they were about $550 back then new. I was sorely tempted to get the MB QLC104s as they were $85 with free shipping and something felt off by that. Too good to be true? The Polk Monitor 30s didn't feel right, I cant tell you why. Neither did the NHTs though they got the most votes from everyone I asked. Typical me, going against the grain. I guess I didn't get the Wharfedales cause I'm subconsciously bitter I can't get mine fixed.

Thanks for all the help. I'll let you knbow how it turns out.

-AJ

cwrightthruya
01-25-2013, 07:37 PM
If they are not damaged, it was a good decision. Let us know how it turns out!!!


Chris

ajhuff
01-25-2013, 07:49 PM
Who knows, if my receiver is lacking maybe it will push me to finally separate into a tuner, pre-amp and amps. It's all I wanted to do in my 20s, but life got in the way. :D

-AJ

ajhuff
01-26-2013, 12:05 AM
We'll see how they do. Like I said, worst case they get relisted on eBay.

Looking forward a year or two, is there any value in building your own speakers? By value I don't mean monetary but satisfaction. Is it better to leave speaker building up to the professional engineers or can you build something that sounds great and satisfies your ears? Even though a lot of the electronics is over my head, building my own speakers has always intrigued me.

-AJ

Johnny.B.Good
01-26-2013, 12:50 AM
Hope your purchase works out for the best, AJ!


As a side note: I was not trying to muddy your decision by producing a bunch of stuff you probably don't care about and most likely won't notice in your room at the sound levels you are considering. I was just trying to give some insight into why I suggested you not choose the MB's, which are actually the ones most would suggest you get.

All interesting reading, Chris. Thanks for the education!

mr drinky
01-26-2013, 01:52 AM
I seriously don't need to read any of this thread. I want to...but I shouldn't.

k.

cwrightthruya
01-26-2013, 10:10 AM
Disclaimer: The below is ONLY MY OPINION, there are no hard scientific facts to back it up, and there are several audiophiles that would disagree with my assessment. However my physics professor when I was in my undergrad falls on my side of this topic, as do most of my audiophile friends. The only exception I currently know is the one guy who is an electrical engineer at BOSE, and believes he is capable of building his own system, which he has yet to do by the way!!!



I built the pair that is in my garage.....BUT

For the most part I would say just buy a set, as it takes companies years of R&D using teams of physicists, audio engineers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in calibrated equipment to come up with even modestly priced monitors.

This is just a scratch at the surface of what goes into speaker design and development. Each monitor case must be matched, through physics (both power and classical) and geometry, to each loudspeaker/driver that goes in it. Then all the drivers in each case must match the sound and output at overlapping and cross-over frequencies from each other. This is not even going into materials for enclosures, wiring, and about a 1,000 other etc's. This is one of the reasons why some loudspeakers fetch $30K each and others can be bought $50 a pair.

The above assumes you want it done correctly!!!!! And you want the best sound you can get.

If you are just interested in having fun, knowing that you built your own monitor system, and would get enjoyment out of showing it off, then that is where the line blurs. It's actually quite fun, decently easy (but you should try and get a book on Sound waves and power physics that discusses (Ohm Rating, RMS, Line capabilities, etc). This will make sure you don't burn your first set like I did. You also will not save any money by going this route because it is not as easy as sticking an expensive driver into a box made of MDF and have it sound awesome. Most of the time, but not always, the sound you will get from your $600 drivers put in a homemade box is going to sound worse than the $500 monitor you picked up at Best Buy.

Good Luck,
And have fun,
Chris

WildBoar
01-26-2013, 10:42 AM
^^x100.

If you want to build your own, it would be best to start with a kit, where someone else has already developed a crossover to properly work with specific combinations of drivers. Do a search on "DIY loudspeaker kits" and you will find a ton of companies who provide kits.

Mr.Magnus
01-26-2013, 12:40 PM
here is my old bookshelf speakers. but i sold them a year ago. i was pretty happy with them :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtjQemhFWw0&list=UUW8eMt9iy0-4JakPtj_oOaA&index=7

Lucretia
01-26-2013, 01:49 PM
There was a professor at Georgia Tech (Dr. Leach) who was renowned for his speaker designs. I knew several people that made them--and they were amazing.

Instructions for building them can be found here (http://users.ece.gatech.edu/mleach/labsp/)

eaglerock
01-26-2013, 01:53 PM
I use beyerdynamic headphones :)

keithsaltydog
01-26-2013, 04:26 PM
As Chris said alot of R&D goes into speaker design.I met a guy who made his own very large speakers,he had Tube Amps.He taught me a little about how to get good sound wt. what I had.I upgraded my Amp.good wire spikes on my floor speakers.

I remember watching Bladerunner at his house wt those big speakers he built.He was def. one of those Brainy geek types.He bought a couple books & read them took the tests & became a Microsoft systems engineer,moved fr. the Islands never saw him again.

ajhuff
01-26-2013, 10:44 PM
I've been carrying around a Radio Shack How to Build Your Own Speakers book for 35 years. Maybe one day just for giggles but it makes sense the companies with deep pockets make better sounding speakers than the garage tech.

-AJ