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Conlan
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Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

Hi all.

Firstly, this is my first post, so I would like to greet everyone here and introduce myself.

I was recently exposed to a very pleasant listening experience and have now decided to put a plan together on climbing the audio ladder to some of that audio pleasure.

I have always enjoyed music, but never really "heard" it when a person sits down to apreciate it.

The album that "woke" me up to this is called "Plans" from a band called "Death Cab for Cutie".

I am looking to get some advice on where to start. I have a plan and some feelings, but am looking for some advice from those who have some experience and are willing to share with me.

Over the years I have been gathering audio kit that was gifed to me and just stuck together without any form of plan or vision.

I have:

NAD 510 CD player (given to me years ago)
NAD AV 711 intergrated reciever/amp (paid about US$70)
Tannoy M5 floor standing speakers (picked up new at 50% clear out sale)
Sony SA-WM40 sub woofer (recently given to me as well, kept switched off at present)

Doing a little reasearch seems to point out that my weakest link is my speakers.

Would I be correct in this deduction? They do not seem to be well known. Does anyone have experience with these speakers. They seem to be quite "dark" and not so clear as compared to the missions that I heard.

The proposed plan:

To replace the speakers firstly and then take it from there.

I dropped in at the audio shop yesterday to see what speaker brands are available to me. They are Monitor Audio, Boston, KEF, Mission, Polk and Sonor.

From the reading I have done, it seems that my room is also of great importance, so I will include a brief description:

12 meters long, 4 meters wide, carpeted with concrete plastered walls, large sliding door on the one side, open planned into diningroom and kitchen.

The aim is to eventually build up a solid ballanced stereo system to listen to my music that I have never really apreciated.

Thanks for any advice in advance.

Conlan

jackfish
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

What is your budget for speakers?

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

Hi.

Sorry. I forgot that part.

I have 400 pounds.

I seem to have found a dealer who is working with me very well and will be dropping by today to have an initial viewing of the equipment.

I will update later of what I looked at and felt.

Thanks!

Conlan.

Monty
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

Most people would probably agree that speakers are going to make the biggest difference. I don't disagree, but I also think that you will benefit quite a bit from a change of any of your components. Digital is a lot better than it used to be and NAD is not known for really good disc spinners to begin with.

If you go speakers first, I would go CD player next.

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

Right.

I have just gotten back from two speaker auditions, and as promised, I am going to post my notes of feelings.

Today I started with two entry level bookshelf speakers. I decided to work up and listen to as much as possible without preconcieved ideas.

I am hoping that this will be of some use to others such as myself out there.

FIRST AUDITION:

Setup:

Rotel RA05 intergrated amp
Rotel RACD 06 CD player
Boston VRB speakers
No fancy speaker cables
Open, very large tiled show room with hard floors, ceilings and floors.
Speakers had a few hours on them.
Amp and CD were out of the box.

I sampled the following tracks and my notes are as follows:

Mazzy Star - Fade Into You - Very good. She sounded real sexy

Pulp Fiction - Common People - Sounded a little hard/edgy on the ears (Bright?) (Britt Pop)

Depeche Mode - I feel You: Babylon remix (deep heavy base trance). Sounded good. Bass was not overwhelming, but sounded tight and controlled. Rating was O.K.

Simon and Garfunkel - The sound of Silence - Boy, I loved it. Open, clear, wonderfull. It just worked for me this track. Marvelous.

Jesus Jones - Right Here Right Now (Australian Rock). Also sounded GREAT. Clear and precise. Probably by far the best mastered CD I have (I'm no expert, so don't quote me on this!)

Ben Harper - Brown Eyed Blues (Pop). It sounded OK but was a little flat for me.

Ben Harper - Amen Omen (Pop). This sounded better and more "alive" or should that be dynamic. Rating was good.

Bush - Glycerine. (Hard rock) Sounded very good. The guitar was well controlled. It worked for me.

Death Cab for Cutie - Soul meets Body (Pop) - A clear good transparent sound. I really enjoyed it.

Death Cab for Cutie - Brothers in a Hotel Bed - Also sounded good and open. Really enjoyed it.

Marianne Faithfull - Don't Forget me unplugged and live - OUTSTANDING! It was so smooth! Loved it.

My overall impression was that the Boston VRB's were very good speakers. They were open and clear and sounded great at low volume, but I think they would tire me quickly at higher listening volumes. The room could also be the cause of the tone of this speaker.

At the end of the day, they just did not do enough for me to part with any money.

I feel that there is more and better out there.

Part two next

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

AUDITION TWO:

PSB Image B25 speakers
NAD C315BEE intergrated amp
NAD T585 CD/SACD/DVD player
Unidentified cables, but were thick and looked reasonably good
All components were demo and had a number of hours on them
Room was a basic home theatre setup with one side open to the show floor.

Notes:

Mazzy Star - Fade into You. Was very good and she was smooth and sexy on this setup.

Collective Soul - Shine - The electric guitars were very good. I really enjoyed it. Controlled and tight.

Marrianne Faithfull - Don't Forget me live and unplugged - WOW. Sounded splendid. Open, clear smooth. This must be a good recording. It worked for me.

Death Cab for Cutie - Soul meets Body. This sounded flat to me. There was no openess there. The top end was absent. Dull.

Death Cab for Cutie - Brothers in a hotel bed - Also flat and dull.

Mission - Butterfly on a Wheel - It sounded good but flat. Detail was there though.

Jesus Jones - Right Here Right Now- Also sounded good, but was dull. No magic.

Ben Harper - Amen Omen. Once again good but flat.

Simon and Grafunkel - Sound of Silence. This sounded good, but was "Hollow" somehow. Felt "light" in the pants.

My Ruin - Terror - This sounded better. It was strong and the base was well controlled and never too much. (A goth base heavy track)

Seether - Fade Away. LOVELY! Clear, open alive! This track just worked on this setup.

Eels - Beautiful Freak - Not bad. OK but once again flat and dull. There was no pizzaz.

Karoo - Alone Again - Sounded controlled and good, but was once again very flat.

Overall I found this setup to be quite flat compared to the first.

In my opinion the PSB would be better for louder party going music. It had more presence than the VRB's but was also very flat for me.

Once again I was not wowed and will be listening to more speakers.

Conclusion next.

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

WARNING: I am NO expert, these are only my feelings and opinions and most probably will make no sense. Music is about feeling, and feelings never seem to make sense... To me anyhow.

CONCLUSION:

Neither setup could pesuade me to part with any money.

The PSB's were good but flat for me. I think they would be easier to listen to loudly for longer periods than the Boston VRB's.

The VRB's were more open and clear, but I think they would be better suited to quiet critical analysis of music and its composition. I think they will fatigue my ears after listening for a while.

But then with a good room they will probably be the better speakers in my opinion to make them slightly less edgy. They did sound "boxy" to me in the environment that I heard them in.

This expedition taught me two things which is all over the boards, but now I realise just how important it is.

Audition at home if at all possible.

Secondly, not all CD's are created equally.

Both speakers ARE better than my present setup. I can hear it clearly. I feel I am on the right track.

Updates to follow next week.

In the mean time I will be reading and assimilating any feedback that anyone is willing to offer me.

Next Week Monitor Audio BR2's and Polk speakers.

Then floorstanders.

Conlan

CECE
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

www.legacyaudio.com then there is no need to go anywhere else. Polk? That's BLOSE spelled differently.

jackfish
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

For around $800 US I'd look at the Epos ELS-303, Triangle Titus ES, Dali Ikon 2, Infinity Beta 50 and the Vandersteen 1C.

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

NEWSFLASH:

Hi all.

The speaker project has just been placed on hold for the moment. I have got a new job and will be concentrating on fitting into the new job for now. Once I have settled here, I will revive the speaker upgrade in the new year...

With the new job I will also have a larger budget available to celebrate with...

Conlan.

Conlan
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Re: Advice: Beginning to climb the audio ladder...

Hi all.

I am back with some feedback.

Firstly, thanks to those who took the time to offer their valuable advice. It was all considered and apreciated.

Anyway, all is settled down now, and I have done some shopping.

My initial feeling turned out to be correct. The original speakers that I had (Tannoy) were definately the weak spot in my cobbled together system.

After listning to B&W (684,683), Polk Audio, Monitor Audio (RS5 and RS 6), Mission, KEF and PSB, my ear kept on comming back to one little known and acknowledged speaker. I was eventually comparing everything I was listning to to the little Monitor Audio RS-5 speakers.

Once I realised that I kept on comming back to the little RS-5's and comparing everything I heard to them, they were the ones for my ear. The cherry on top was that I managed to negotiate a large discount, as they were the last pair.

The RS-5's were a perfect fit on every front. Size was perfect, they have a real wood Rosenut Veneer that is absolutely wonderful to touch and see, simple design, solid and not to mention just wonderful to my ear. The price was also right in my ballpark.

They have changed the way I hear and listen to music. In my listning room setup, they sound open, agile, nimble, ballanced and neutral (to me anyway). I do not like overpowering bass, but a tight and nimble, but present bass that compliments and weaves in and out of my music.

One word of advice though, if you are into high volume, big bold sound, don't bother with this little speaker. It is just not built for SPL levels (I think thats what it's referred to as).

I would have liked to listen to the speakers that Jackfish recommended, but all except the Vandersteens were available to me for auditioning.

I am now finding myself looking forward to listning to my music, and once I start, the time just dissapears. It's not unusual to find myself listning to 3 or 4 hours at a time.

The next item on my agenda this year is to move to a dedicated, quality stereo amplifier and CD player to replace the current AV 5.1 system.

This will not be right now, but towards the end of the year, as this is a luxury item purchase, and luxury items should never be bought on credit, but for cash.

I would be eagre to hear if anyone else there has had experiences with the Monitor Audio RS-5's and what you have paired them up with (amps and CD players) as well as a few suggestions from the more experienced members of the board.

Thanks and hopefully someone out there will find this thread helpful in the future.

Conlan

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