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prudz
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Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Hi!

I went to some places because I am looking to upgrade my audio system some time soon. Right now, I am looking at a Rotel integrated amplifier (RA-1062), delivering 60 watts per channel using 8 ohms, to use with my Rotel RCD-1072 CD player. At some place I went, a guy told me I should look for Bookshelf rather than Floorstanding speaker with that kind of amplification. I was wondering if anybody could give me some advice.

Thank you

mrlowry
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

It would really depend on the speaker brand and series as well as the room size. Could you be more specific?

prudz
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I have a mid-size room (15' x 20'). I've listened to Epos M16i, B&W 683, 685 and Paradigm Signature S2. I have to say that the Paradigm really impressed me for the price but I have not done any real long listening with my CDs yet. The Epos were also great with a rich midrange. If you have any other suggestions, that would be great. I have to say I would rather like going with Floorstanding, but I don't know if it would be the best fit for me.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
I have to say I would rather like going with Floorstanding, but I don't know if it would be the best fit for me.

Why do you say you would like them, and why wouldn't they be the best fit? Either would probably work in that room, depending on the speaker.

Really, my main point in responding is this: if you want floorstanders because you think they sound better, they are the better fit. You're getting these speakers to please yourself - I hope.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
I have a mid-size room (15' x 20'). I've listened to Epos M16i, B&W 683, 685 and Paradigm Signature S2. I have to say that the Paradigm really impressed me for the price but I have not done any real long listening with my CDs yet. The Epos were also great with a rich midrange. If you have any other suggestions, that would be great. I have to say I would rather like going with Floorstanding, but I don't know if it would be the best fit for me.


Please,please add Jamo's amazing C803's to your auditioning list, even if you have to travel some distance to hear them. If you do the distinction between bookshelf and floorstander will melt into irrelevancy.

jackfish
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I'd also take a listen to the Totem Sttaf. They produce impressive bass for their size and take up no more room than bookshelf speakers on stands.

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_14_2/totem-sttaf-speakers-5-2007.html

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I'm not sure what your budget is, but the Monitor Audio RS6 is an excellent small floorstander at an affordable price. I have them and love them.

check the review:
http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/306monitor/index.html

mrlowry
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

The Rotel integrated should do fine with most floor standing speakers within reason in a room that size, depending on listening level. Did the dealer make that remark after you demo'ed some stuff? If so he might have said that because you listen LOUD. In the nearly 10 years that I sold audio I can count on two hands the number of people that would admit they liked it loud. The actual number is much, much higher. Either people don't like to admit it or they don't realize it.

prudz
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

In fact, I was now thinking spending a little bit more money on the speakers and look for the B&W 703 or 704. Does anyone knows if the Rotel RA-1062 would be powerfull enough to drive those speaker correctly for my room size. If not, what should I be looking for (and what would be the price I should pay) if I want to go with that kind of speaker?

commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

If you get small (bookshelf/stand) speakers, the 60 watts is quite adequate, because they are not going to produce real low bass and therefore do not draw huge amounts of power, assuming an efficiency rating of at least 88db per watt at 1 meter (normally the case). These speakers are typically 2-way, including a main speaker and a tweeter; they are not large enough to have a dedicated bass section.

If you go to floorstanding speakers, they now are typically 3-way, which means they do have a dedicated bass driver and are much larger in order to incorporate it and its enclosure, which is really a separate section within the speaker enclosure. Now you are going to need more than 60 watts to drive the bass section to loud levels.

Furthermore, 98% of floorstanding speakers really don't have great bass anyway, and suck a lot of power doing a halfway job of trying.

Personally, my suggestion is that you go with the amplifier you mention and the EPOS ELS-8 or some similar speaker on stands, and then spend $600-1200 at a later date for a dedicated bass unit with its own amplifier (which everyone calls a subwoofer; this is somewhat of a misnomer, which comes from the fact that its output is "below" what your small speakers will effectively produce...). The Velodyne SPL-1000R, for example, is reasonably good and runs about $700. This leaves your main amplifier free to do its job of driving the main speakers, and keeps the bass section separate, with its own amplifier.

To get floorstanding speakers that really deliver good bass, you will need to typically spend $4000 to $10,000 for the speakers and need at least 150W or more of power from the amplifier; a LOT power more for some speakers, if they are less efficient. See Class B-Full Range Loudspeakers in the October 2008 Recommended Components for examples of some floorstanding speakers capable of good bass (and their prices...).

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commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

A LITTLE BIT more money??

The B & W speakers you mention are over $2000; that is 3 times as much as what you were talking about before, I think.

If you are going to get into THAT price range you should consider the Vandersteen 2CE or Revel Concerto F12, which are very fine speakers indeed. And if you are going to go to that level of quality, you will not be satisfied with a Rotel integrated amp; consider the Creek, NAD, and Rega integrated amps shown in Recommended Components Class B.

It might be useful if you would define your price ranges.

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Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

For now, why don't I recommend you read this piece; http://www.symphonysound.com/articles/tubefriendly.html

I would say it begins to clear up a bit of the typical confusion about mating speakers and amplifiers of both the tube and transistor variety.

prudz
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

All right. After consideration, I would be ready to put between 3500-4000$ on both the speakers and the amplification. Of course, I will stay with my Rotel RCD-1072 as my CD player. I am not looking for a speaker with necessarily a lot of bass. I would like a speaker that can provide me with a good midrange and who would be great for the price, considering I will be mostly listening to classical music. I don't know if you need anything else. Should I go with pre-amp and power amp, should I go with a better integrated amp?

And also, I don't like to see you fight guys and I only want both of you to help me understand what I should really be looking for here (since this is a lot lot of money for me).

Thank you for your help!

P.S. I know I can listen to B&W, Epos, Monitor Audio, Totem, Proac, Quad, Martin Logan, Sonus Faber, Focal JMLab speakers nearby. I also now I can look at Rotel, NAD, Naim, Arcam, cambridge audio, moon, McIntosh, Classe for the amplification, to name those.

commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I would check out the Monitor Audio Silver RS6 speaker at some point (see the Stereophile review). For around $1200, this thing is literally a steal!! Also, I wonder if one of the Stereophile staff would comment about it being rated Class B Limited LF in October 2008 as opposed to full-range; could that be a publishing error? I would have thought full-range, since the review speaks of realistic reproduction of organ pedal notes; that doesn't sound too limited on the low end...lol.

There are a number of good integrated amps out there for sure, but Creek always sounds very very nice to me; At $999 for a class-B rated 150W amp, the NAD C372 seems like an unbelievable good deal too.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
I am not looking for a speaker with necessarily a lot of bass. I would like a speaker that can provide me with a good midrange and who would be great for the price, considering I will be mostly listening to classical music.

Certainly the Totem Rainmaker on T4S stands ($1500) should get a listen. Good integrated amps to listen to are the NAD C375BEE, Rotel RA-1062, Music Hall A50.2, Cambridge Audio 840A, NAD C372, Creek Evolution, Creek Classic 5350SE, Simaudio Moon i-1, Jolida JD-1501A, Shanling A-3000, Peachtree Nova, Vincent Audio SV226 and PS Audio Trio C100.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Let's begin by saying I'm about to give you more information than you asked for or require. You apparently want someone to tell you which components and speakers to buy or at least audition and that is not what I'm going to do here. Read this ony if you want some information and not a series of brand and model recommendations - though there is one simple recommendation in all of this.


Quote:
If you get small (bookshelf/stand) speakers, the 60 watts is quite adequate, because they are not going to produce real low bass and therefore do not draw huge amounts of power, assuming an efficiency rating of at least 88db per watt at 1 meter (normally the case). These speakers are typically 2-way, including a main speaker and a tweeter; they are not large enough to have a dedicated bass section.

Size does not determine how much wattage you will require. And wattage alone does not determine what speaker you can satisfactorily drive. Efficiency of the speaker system will be the starting point in determining which amplifier will suit which speaker. With most speakers averaging less than 5% efficiency, wattage becomes not so important in most cases. Most of the energy you put into the speaker system will be lost in heat anyway and a typical listening level for most people needs no more than a few watts average.

Since no one lists the efficiency of their speaker systems - would you if your boast was 2%? - you can begin by looking at the electrical sensitivity of the system. Without looking very hard you'll find standmounted speakers that range from a low of about 82dB @ 2.83 volts in to a high of approx. 96dB. If you aren't familiar with how those figures relate to the equivalent power input, let us know. Quickly though, adding 10dB to the sensitivity of the speaker system is the rough equivalent of buying ten times as much power. Lowering the sensitivity by three dB is the rough equivalent of cutting your available wattage in half.

http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

In general, the sensitivity of the woofer determines the overall sensitivity spec of the speaker system since most midrange and high frequency drivers are more sensitive than the larger low frequency drivers. Therefore a designer might begin thinking about a new speaker by deciding which low frequency driver they wish to use and then fitting the rest of the system around that one driver. There are other ways to begin designing a speaker system but, if we stick with this for now, we can take a single low frequency driver and then manipulate several basic qualities of the overall speaker system. The most elemental qualities to begin with are the low frequency extension of the system, the overall efficiency of the system and the overall size of the system. Change one of those three and you affect the other two. So you can make a system more sensitive (efficient, though these are not directly interchangeable), you can give the speaker deeper bass extension or you can have a larger/smaller box. By choosing the larger box, you will likely also make the speaker either play louder or go deeper. See how that works? The thing is you can't have all three at once. The low frequency driver has a set of measurements - the TS parameters - which help the designer work out in advance what final system qualities will result when any one piece of the puzzle is changed.

So any speaker can be bigger (floorstander) or smaller (standmount) if we are considering the same low frequency driver as the anchor to this system. Making it bigger doesn't necessarily change its overall ability to play loud, nor does it imply it will play with "better bass". Buying a floorstanding speaker doesn't mean you will need more power. Actually, if you look at the average senstivity spec for most floorstanders, they are, as a group, able to produce higher SPL's with the same amount of power input than the average standmount speaker. You could easily argue it is more likely your wattage requirements will decrease with a floorstanding system rather than increase. Of course, that depends on the decisions the designer has made in juggling the three parameters of basic design. Look over the specs of a few floorstanders to see how they differ from a few popular standmount speakers. If the designer has opted for lower bass extension in the standmount, it will require more power than if the design had aimed toward high SPL's.

Now add in the type of enclosure the designer has chosen to work with. For a given driver the designer chooses an enclosure that suits the "Q" of the driver and fits it to a system "Q". This then selects whether the speaker system will likely be a vented system or a sealed system. A basic advanatage of a vented system is that it is on average about 3dB higher in senstivity than an equivalent sealed system. Of course, there are very few equivalents here since the driver for a sealed system and a vented system are seldom the same due to the differing "Q" of the driver suited to each type enclosure. However, you can see the variables begin to add up and making overall blanket statements about this size speaker or that size speaker become less and less valuable. One blanket statement that you might start with is assuming a vented system will play slightly louder (the rough equivalent of doubling your available wattage) than a sealed system with the same amount of wattage input. It will also extend deeper in the bass for the same size enclosure than had the designer sealed the system enclosure. However, it's bass extension falls off more rapidly due to the vent than an equivalent sealed system, -24dB per octave vs. -12dB per octave. If you can understand how those numbers work, you might see that a similarly sized sealed system would actually have more usable bass than a vented system. There are exceptions to this rule but they'll take us far off course here.

How about we just say that on paper numbers for any speaker system are just about as useful as on paper numbers for any amplifier's wattage output - not very. The speaker designer gets to choose from so many variables that the end result you hear is what really matters and not the size or bass extension or sensitivity.

There are advantages to a smaller enclosure that cannot be found in a larger enclosure. The smaller enclosure can be made more rigid and that is generally considered a good thing - unless the designer feels the enclosure will always add its own character to the overall sound and therefore builds a cabinet that doesn't attempt to damp the resonance of the system so much as it allows the system to resonate in a controlled fashion. Heavy or light a speaker can sound quite good but the difference between a heavy speaker and a lightweight speaker should be obvious on first audition.

If you've read the linked article, you'll understand that system sensitivity means very little to the actual amount of "power" you will require to adequately drive any speaker system. As the impedance drops the amplifier must produce more amperage (current) to drive the speaker and control the motion of the low frequency driver. If the amp cannot produce sufficient amperage on demand and for sufficiently long periods of time, the speaker might begin to drive the amplifier through back electromotive force (EMF) - not a desireable situation. This takes us into the weeds with a topic that would require pages and pages of information to begin to explain. One way to not need to worry about this situation is to avoid speakers that; first, drop their impedance to beneath an average of 6 Ohms and second, to avoid speakers that at the point the impedance drops, the electrical phase angle also changes dramatically. Whether the change in phase angle is caused by an inductive or a capacitive impediment, minimizing this measurement down to the minimum possible is IMO most desireable while maintaining the highest possible average impedance is typically beneficial also.

Read a few of JA's measurements on various speakers and you'll see how a combination of low impedance and high phase angle will tend toward a speaker system that will require a more hefty amplifier. That more difficult to drive speaker translates into an amplifier requirement that has a more hefty power supply which translates into a more hefty price tag. The Rotel amp does have higher than average current capacity and therefore allows some freedom in speaker selction though some would say it comes at a price. As a general rule - and general rules are not always to be followed - a speaker system that requires higher current also requires you play it at higher volume levels to get it "up and going". Audition your choices at all volume levels to make certain they will fulfill your requirements.

If you choose a speaker that is quite easy to drive and has high system efficiency, you will actually require only a few watts to get up and running to quite loud levels no matter the size of the speaker. A Klipschorn has a system sensitivity of 104dB, approximately 10% system efficiency, plays fairly low bass, and can drive you out of the room with a ten watt amplifier of good quality. It is, if course, the size of a refrigerator.

If the speaker you select is difficult to drive, whether the enclosure is large or small, you might find yourself always listening at high levels in order to hear the music and possibly pushing the amp toward clipping.

The amplifier will work just as hard no matter the low frequency extension of the speaker system. The amp is responding to the input of the pre amp and not the output of the speaker here. If you happen to run a phono system you might see the woofers moving back and forth at a very slow speed while playing an LP. The system is reproducing the low, subsonic warp frequency resulting from the arm/cartridge match up. The amplifier doesn't know the speaker cannot make this frequency audible (or that your ears can't hear it either) so it wastes its power generating an 8Hz signal and the driver in turn must respond to what the amplifier tells it to do despite this frequency being beneath the useable range of the speaker system. Therefore, whether you buy a big speaker or a small speaker, the amplifier will try its best to reproduce whatever the pre amp feeds it. Remember, it is not the size of the enclosure or the bass extensionof the system that ultimately determines how much wattage you should buy.


Quote:
If you go to floorstanding speakers, they now are typically 3-way, which means they do have a dedicated bass driver and are much larger in order to incorporate it and its enclosure, which is really a separate section within the speaker enclosure.

None of this is realy true. In your price range you'll very likely still find more two way - or even one way - systems than three way systems. The more drivers in the system, the more complicated the crossover network must become and the higher the overall cost. The more likely it will be the numerous drivers will sound more like a collection of individual drivers put in a box rather than one cohesive whole reproducing music as if it were coming from one voice or one instrument. Do not take the number of drivers in the box as being any more relevant than the size of the box. (Personally, my one suggestion would be to audition a single driver system just to hear what simplicity sounds like.) It is still the low frequency driver that is the major element in determining the overall enclosure dimensions. If the manufacturer has placed the same drivers in a standmount speaker and in a floor standing speaker - not all that uncommon today - expect the larger system to either play louder or to play deeper, or a trade off of both with neither being dominant. Also expect the enclosure to contribute more of its own sound to the final system sound.

Whether the designer has built a separate enclosure for the midrange/tweeter is a matter of choice. In a two way system this would be unlikely since most mid/tweeter drivers are sealed and therefore don't see much effect from the internal pounding of the wooofer's back wave. Adding a separate enclosure for the higher frequency driver(s) complicates the assembly and raises the cost, often without any real world benefits. There are several good reasons to build a discrete enclosure for the separate drivers but there are also just as many disadvantages to the principle.

And that, for now, is the key to this whole affair. Everything is a trade off, to get one thing, you might have to give up two things. Standmount speakers tend to get out of the way of the music more efficiently than do floormounts. However, given the overall direction of the market today, floorstanders still tend to play not so much louder as with less apparent power being consumed. Unless, that is, they are more difficult to drive electrically than that standmount system. Then you've traded one set of compromises for another.

There's quite a bit more to this than I've covered and the best advice is to go listen to numerous models of speakers. Do your listening on quiet weekday afternoons when the shop can work around your needs. Take your time and don't buy anything just to be buying something. One piece of advice I gave many clients was to not buy the speaker that impressed them the most in the shop. You'll get tired of being impressed by your speakers when you really just want to listen to your music.

I hope this clears up why I said most of what's his name's advice was not entirely accurate. There's quite a bit to absorb here and it just skims the surface. A good independent audio shop should be able to guide you along. Everyone has opinions, I would say the most important thing for you to do is to begin developing your own opinions about what you want from your system - "clear highs and clean bass" or "good mids" isn't enough - and not get bogged down in the design of a speaker or amplifier. Just know enough to realize when you're being told something that isn't entirely true.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Well thank you all guys. I will try first to digest all that information Jan and then I think I'll do, in due time, what I have to do, which is listen to all of those different speakers. Thanks for the advice of every body, I will try to get that special system that I will like for years to come.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
In fact, I was now thinking spending a little bit more money on the speakers and look for the B&W 703 or 704. Does anyone knows if the Rotel RA-1062 would be powerfull enough to drive those speaker correctly for my room size. If not, what should I be looking for (and what would be the price I should pay) if I want to go with that kind of speaker?

Back in the Fall I auditioned both the 703 and 704, connected to the Rotel 1062 amp and 1072 cdp. This was in a room that was, about, 20 x 30 and the 1062 did a fine job of driving both speakers...plenty of sound and I hadn't hit the halfway point on the volume control. Both speakers were out of my price range ($2,400 & $3,00). For the music and volume levels that I listen to I went with the 1062/1072 combo and the Epos M16i speakers.
I also gave a listen to the Vandersteen 2ce signature II. Very impressive but more speaker than I need and they require a more powerful amp.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Power is certainly an issue there.

Personally, I think that if you listen to both speakers, you will find the Vandersteen 2CE to be a much better-sounding speaker than the B & W 703 or 704, for about the same price. When you consider that Richard Vandersteen is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to phase coherence and smooth response and that he has been refining and perfecting this one speaker for over 30 years, that is not too surprising. How many speakers have been in production for 30 years and sold over 200,000 units? (answer...this IS the only one...)

Check the 2007 Stereophile review for more information. It should be noted that while doing this review, Art Dudley ran the 2CE's with a 21 watt amplifier and they worked well!

Its sensitivity rating is 86 db/W, however, whereas the B & W is 90 db/W. The sensitivity difference of 4 db/W, if accurate, means that the Vandersteen would require roughly twice as much power for the same output.

On the other hand, I know from personal experience that a 100W amplifier (8 ohm rating) is more than I needed for the Vandersteen 2 in a fairly large room (12' by 30') when I had them a few years ago. I think they would work very well with a 60-watt amplifier, unless you are trying to run someone out of Carnegie Hall...lol.

I think that in most cases, the 4 ohm power capability of the amplifier is really what one should consider. I think that if you look at the actual impedance vs frequency curve for the vast majority of speakers, you will find very few where the impedance is 8 ohms or higher at all frequencies.
One certainly should try to look at the impedance curve carefully before choosing amplification, or best of all do an actual test of amplifier and speaker together; can't beat that.

The federal government decreed 40 years ago, more or less, that to level the playing field all manufacturers must give the continuous RMS power at 8 ohms, as the standard rating for comparison. In those days, however, there were still quite a few speakers rated at 16 ohms, and not too many rated way below 8 ohms. I think that has changed quite a bit. It might really make more sense now if they changed and made a 6 ohm rating the primary rating for comparison, and the 8 ohm and 4 ohm ratings supplemental.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
Check the 2007 Stereophile review for more information. It should be noted that while doing this review, Art Dudley ran the 2CE's with a 21 watt amplifier and they worked well!


Quote:
On the other hand, I know from personal experience that a 100W amplifier (8 ohm rating) is more than I needed for the Vandersteen 2 in a fairly large room (12' by 30') when I had them a few years ago.

Twenty one is less than 100, so 100 watts would probably be overkill if the amplifiers were equivalent. I doubt they are as few amplifiers truly are identical to one another.


Quote:
I think that in most cases, the 4 ohm power capability of the amplifier is really what one should consider. I think that if you look at the actual impedance vs frequency curve for the vast majority of speakers, you will find very few where the impedance is 8 ohms or higher at all frequencies.
One certainly should try to look at the impedance curve carefully before choosing amplification, or do an actual test of amplifier and speaker together.

If you'll read what I posted earlier and also read the linked Symphony Sound article, you'll see that impedance alone is only telling a very small portion of the story you must decipher. (And hopefully, you won't be forced to do this on your own, the better shops should have qualified staff to assist you in this task. You'll just need to concentrate on the music you hear.)

If we take away for the moment the full range single driver speakers that are available to you, this will remove the systems that would have the most consistent load (impedance and phase angle) into which the amplifier must operate. That would leave the multi-driver speakers which dominate the maket place - two ways, three ways, etc. Then we must remove the transformer coupled amplifiers and work only with the direct coupled amplifiers that are available - the majority of the solid state amplifiers which would include the Rotel line. By now we've whittled away a good deal of choices amongst what is available to you to get down to the group that must deal with impedance swings by throwing large amounts of amperage at the problem. (If you take away from that last sentence that there are other ways around this impedance "thing", then you are correct in your assumption.)

Go back to the Symphony Sound article or, if possible, to a few of JA's measurements on the speakers you're interested in auditioning. Look at the numbers provided which describe a "difficult to drive" speaker vs. "an easy load for any amplifier" speakers.

A direct coupled solid state amplifier such as the Rotel is intended to operate into an 8 Ohm load; for instance, it is measured for it's R.M.S. wattage output by attaching it to an 8 Ohm load resistor that never much varies from that 8 Ohm load and represents what is known as a "resistive" load. When the amplifier is hooked to a speaker that employs more than one driver and therefore has some sort of passive crossover in between the drivers (but in line with the circuit of the amplifier), the load shifts from that ideal resistive load to what is refered to as a "reactive" load.

Amplifiers do not like reactive loads. Getting a (direct coupled) amplifier to the point where it can deal with reactive loads is typically expensive. The less reactive you can make the load (by choosing the right speaker), or the less you can make the amplifier concern itself with a reactive load (by choosing the right amplifier), the fewer the problems the amplifier will face and the better it will be at performing its job.

If you are going to be using a reactive load as your speaker of choice - the most recent B&W line of speakers are well known to be rather highly reactive in their loading of an amplifier, not all models but most, this qualifies them as "difficult to drive" speakers - the higher you want the "nominal" or average impedance to remain. When the impedance load begins to drop beneath that ideal 8 Ohm load problems arise. Unfortunately, the prevailing concept of solid state electronics is that watts are cheap and therefore you can cheaply throw watts at any problem. Some people would call this the "get a bigger hammer" approach to sound reproduction. Speaker designers are seldom amplifier designers and the two seem to never speak to one another so both groups are constantly getting bigger hammers and you can guess who gets nailed.

If you are dealing with a speaker that has a low impedance drop - one that will require more current delivery from the amplifier - I would suggest you do two things; first, look at where the impedance drop occurs and, two, look at how the electrical phase angle responds at the same frequency. If the impedance drops in the mid to low frequencies the amplifier faces a somewhat different situation than if the impedance were to drop (or rise for that matter) through the upper range of frequencies. Low impedance is still low impedance and the amplifier is being forced out of its comfort zone in either case but upper frequencies use so little power (typically only a few watts) compared to low frequencies (everything the amplifier can deliver) that low impedance in the upper range can become a fairly benign situation. If the low impedance exists in the mid to low frequencies, which is most common, then you must look at the phase angle of the signal/load to decide whether this amplifier is well suited to this speaker.

The phase angle will be either inductive or capacitive in nature. While both represent a problem for the amplifier, the amplifier deals with those issues differently in each case and the capacitive phase angle is more common in today's speakers and the most difficult for today's middle of the road amplifiers such as the Rotel to deal with. (Are you understanding why speaker designers and amplifier designers never speak to one another? If they did, these situations wouldn't exist.)

If you are choosing a speaker such as the common garden variety B&W, you'll find the phase angle is difficult (typically highly capacitive) where the impedance is low. This is seriously bad joojoo! What you would prefer is a speaker such as the LS3/5a that Symphony Sound cited in their article. Generally regarded as a very amplifier friendly speaker system, the 3/5a designers cannot rewrite the basic rules of multi-driver speaker systems. The designers did, however, use those rules to their advantage. The diminutive 3/5a is a very electrically insensitive speaker system that measures at a tick over 82dB @ 2.83 volts.

It doesn't play very loud for the amount of watts you put into it.

To make the situation more amplifier friendly the 3/5a designers manipulated the system values to the point where at the frequency where the impedance is at its lowest, the phase angle of the system is at its most benign. Manipulating the electrical characteristics of the system in this way tends to make the 3/5a a more resistive - ideal - load for any amplifier and therefore an easier load to drive and the amplifier remains within its comfort zone even as SPL's increase.

Buying an easy to drive speaker makes life much easier on your amplifier (naturally) and probably on your wallet too. The amplifier is more likely to sound at all volume levels as if it is working within its comfort zone which makes the music appear more relaxed since it is not reflecting the sound of an amplifier in distress. An easy to drive small loudspeaker is quite likely to sound more relaxed at high volumes than a larger enclosure, difficult system will sound at lower volumes. There are numerous reasons for exceptions to this statement but I think most experienced listeners will have found this to be the case more often than not.

Therefore, I would suggest you look for an easy to drive speaker system and pass on the more difficult to drive systems. If you still don't know how to decipher which is which, you can look for measurements of each speaker you might select, call the manufacturer and ask for their help or you can ask the store for assistance and hope you get someone with better information than what's his name.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:
The federal government decreed 40 years ago, more or less, that to level the playing field all manufacturers must give the continuous RMS power at 8 ohms, as the standard rating for comparison. In those days, however, there were still quite a few speakers rated at 16 ohms, and not too many rated way below 8 ohms. I think that has changed quite a bit. It might really make more sense now if they changed and made a 6 ohm rating the primary rating for comparison, and the 8 ohm and 4 ohm ratings supplemental.

What was mandated decades ago was the statement of R.M.S. wattage output, as it exists when the amplifier is driving that ideal 8 Ohm resistive load on a test bench, with "one watt" of power being applied to the speaker system's inputs. The resulting measurement is derived from a calibrated microphone placed one meter from the speaker's front plane. Look at the initial manufacturer's specs in the opening of any Stereophile review of speakers to see how this is written. You'll also notice that when you use the SPL calculator I linked to in an earlier post, there are numerous qualifiers that determine how closely this number comes to what happens in your real world listening room. Additonally, there are qualifiers that make the manufacturer's spec not always a realistic measure of what the speaker system will actually produce under these "test" conditions. Look at JA's opening comment in any speaker review's "Measurements" section for more information regarding this discrepancy.

Returning to the Federally mandated specs, the issue quickly arose that impedance plays a very important role in determining the actual number of "watts" that are being put into the speaker load. This still isn't the place to get into how "watts" differ from "power" but impedance (along with, as you've seen in the above post, phase angle in the real world) will play a large role in that discussion also.

What you might want to look for is a speaker manufacturer who states their acoustic output (SPL) in dB's when the amplifier is applying a constant voltage. That number would be "2.83 volts". This amount of voltage is, when the speaker is assumed to be a purely resisitive load (not likely, right?), the equivalent "power" to one watt no matter whether the load is 8 Ohms, 6 Ohms or 4 Ohms.

If you see the "2.83 volts" in the manufacturer's spec for electrical sensitivity, you can assume the manufacturer is making a small attempt at being more forthright about their numbers. On the other hand, the numbers can be fudged to such an extent that many manufacturers no longer see on paper specs as being relevant to the buying public's useage of their product and those manufacturers might not list any sensitivity spec for their product at all, or they might state a number that is there only to meet the federal requirements for advertising an audio product.

I would personally agree more with the latter group. What you see on paper is, at best, an ideal situation for both amplifier and speaker (and preamp and CD player and turntable, etc.) and those numbers can be jimmied around to look any way the manufacturer wants them to look and most often they don't have to tell you they have screwed with the spec to get it to work to their advantage.

My position toward on paper specs is you need to know four of them, height, width, depth and weight. You need the fisrt three to know whether the item will fit where you intend it to go. And you need the weight to know whether you'll need to borrow your neighbor's pick'em up truck to get it home. Beyond that, most on paper specs aren't worth the tree they killed to get there. Listen, then listen some more, don't rush into the purchase, don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions and hope the shop has someone more knowledgeable than what's his name.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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Personally, I think that if you listen to both speakers, you will find the Vandersteen 2CE to be a much better-sounding speaker than the B & W 703 or 704, for about the same price.

Agreed, the Vandersteen is the superior speaker. I was simply pointing out that the 60 watt Rotel drove the B&Ws without an effort. The Vandersteens were being power by a Rotel pre and 150 (?) watt amp...they needed the power to sound good.


Quote:
When you consider that Richard Vandersteen is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to phase coherence and smooth response and that he has been refining and perfecting this one speaker for over 30 years, that is not too surprising. How many speakers have been in production for 30 years and sold over 200,000 units? (answer...this IS the only one...)

Excellent point!


Quote:
Check the 2007 Stereophile review for more information. It should be noted that while doing this review, Art Dudley ran the 2CE's with a 21 watt amplifier and they worked well!

I don't question ADs' review but I wonder how large was the listening room, acoustics, etc. My experience; they needed to be pushed to sound their best.


Quote:
On the other hand, I know from personal experience that a 100W amplifier (8 ohm rating) is more than I needed for the Vandersteen 2 in a fairly large room (12' by 30') when I had them a few years ago. I think they would work very well with a 60-watt amplifier, unless you are trying to run someone out of Carnegie Hall...lol.

No doubt that a 100 watt would drive them easily. I tried listening to them using int amp that were less than 100 and some could do it but most couldn't...to my satisfaction, anyway.

My listening room is small and the Vandersteens would have been much to large (physically and acoustically) along with being out of my price range. I opted for a "smaller" set up.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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How many speakers have been in production for 30 years and sold over 200,000 units? (answer...this IS the only one...)

I think you might want to check those numbers as they exist in the original - and still in production - Klipsch loudspeaker line. The Vandersteens are relatively young pups by comparison. Quite a few such models exist in the pro audio world, call JBL for numbers and ask about a "4311".

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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No doubt that a 100 watt would drive them easily. I tried listening to them using int amp that were less than 100 and some could do it but most couldn't...to my satisfaction, anyway.

See my comments in the above post. If this is the speaker you want to use in any sized room, you'll need a bigger hammer, not neccesarily an amplifier with more watts.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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How many speakers have been in production for 30 years and sold over 200,000 units? (answer...this IS the only one...)

Bose 901's baby!

My beloved Lowthers have been around for over 50 years, I bet they could be getting up there in sales numbers!

Both the Bose and Lowther are 'full range' drivers, too!

Anyway, to get back on topic, go check Stephen's blog about his recent trip to DeVore speakers.

The new 'bookshelf' is in your price range and I have heard it and it is pretty much all that. Some day, I will be buying a pair.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Your beloved Lowthers have been around for over seventy years!

The problem in this case with the Lowthers would be they are only drivers, they are not completed "speaker systems".

The case could be made for the Quad electrostatic to also qualify as a fifty year project of refinement of the original concept.

More hyperbole from what's his name!

Does Bose still market any version of the 901?

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:

Quote:
How many speakers have been in production for 30 years and sold over 200,000 units? (answer...this IS the only one...)

I think you might want to check those numbers as they exist in the original - and still in production - Klipsch loudspeaker line. The Vandersteens are relatively young pups by comparison. Quite a few such models exist in the pro audio world, call JBL for numbers and ask about a "4311".

This original quote is from commsysman, not myself. I do agree with you in regards to the "4311".

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


Quote:

If this is the speaker you want to use in any sized room, you'll need a bigger hammer, not neccesarily an amplifier with more watts.

Ah, but I have downsized my living quarters with plans of retirement. A grandiose listening arena is not in the picture.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

You've missed my point.

"If this is the speaker you want to use in any sized room, you'll need a bigger hammer, not neccesarily an amplifier with more watts.

I would agree that should your volume requirements and musical demands not place extreme demands on the amplifier, an amplifier with less "watts" but just as much "hammer" should be sufficient. I still find most listeners using less than 20 "watts" for average listening levels.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Prudz, my two cents. I believe it was Jan who noted that floorstanders don't necessarily need more power than so-called "bookshelf" models.

My floorstanding Triangles (both the humongous Magellan AND the smaller Volante 260) will both run quite comfortably on the right 25 watts. But it has to be the right 25 watts, not just "25 watts." The bookshelf Totem Mani-2, which I just loved when I owned them, needed 200 watts. At least. And it had to be the right 200.

In my experience, there are no rules. Find the sound you like from the speakers, first. THEN, start looking for optimum electronic matches. And, don't forget about source components. Garbage in, garbage out. But, beauty in, garbage out, if your amplifiers can't hack the speakers.

If all this were easy, we wouldn't get to argue with and insult each other so much on this site. And there would be no need for Stereophile, The absolute Bullshit, or about 2,000 web-sites, each pretending to unquestionable authority.

All this is not easy. "Universal" electronics will cost you your first-born. That is why they are so expensive. Budget electronics can sound divine or horrible, depending on how they match up with your speakers of choice, your preferred volume levels, and your room size and damping. To get the "divine" from budget gear, you will have to work for it. It is out there. But you will have to work for it. Watts, in themselves, mean absolutely nothing. Nor does impedance, damping factor, or any other singled-out amplifier spec.

The bottom line. Your electronics have to work WITH your speakers, not against them. And, here is the hard part --

Only you can be the judge.

Confused about how to narrow things down? I hate to sound like a company man (I am not), but Stereophile does that very well. All of their reviewers do combinations. That is, they write about amplifier/speaker combinations, when they review either.

Someone mentioned Creek. I can only tell you what I hear. If I got wiped out by a tornado tomorrow, I would start over with Creek and Epos. That is just my read, after 30 years of chasing the dream. Rotel makes great amplifiers. So does everybody else mentioned on this thread. Vandersteen makes great speakers. So does everybody else mentioned on this thread.

By all means, do NOT buy any of this shit on the internet. Any money you think you will be saving will be merely delusional. Because, from the nature of your question, you need a dealer. You need some trial and error. You need to haunt the showroom and take your time. You need to go to a few live concerts. You need a reference, live or not.

You need a good dealer. Find one, and keep us posted.

Good luck, and happy tunes.

commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

While not a word-for-word quote, that information came directly from paragraph 3 of Art Dudley's January 2007 review of the Vandersteen 2CE in Stereophile. If Art was mistaken, then you should let him know; not me. (The EXACT quote from Art is... "the model 2 and its variants endure as the most successful American Loudspeakers in HIGH-END audio, with close to 200,000 sold"...by now, in 2009, the total is over 200,000)

Also, I find it very unlikely that Klipsch ever produced over 200,000 units of any one model of loudspeaker; do you have some actual figures from them?

If anyone thinks that any Bose product qualifies as "high-end", put on the dunce cap and stand in the corner.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I agree with everything you say about going to a dealer and listening; I always used to do it that way (I spent so much time at Havens & Hardesty in Orange County in the 1980s that they should have just put me on the payroll...rofl).

But now that I have retired and live out in the boonies, I find that a 6-hour roundtrip to the city is not worth it, in most cases; too much time, hassle, and traffic. Furthermore, if they are loaning you their demo unit, which is usually the case, they want it back in their showroom in 24 or 48 hours, which is not enough time for me (Particularly with the long trip both ways). I often want to live with the unit in my system for at least 10 days before I make a final decision.

Audio Advisor will give you 30 days to try something out, and if you return it you are only out of pocket for the return shipping. I went that route recently on some new equipment for my #2 system, used with my HDTV, and went 3 out of 4, lol. I did a lot of research before I ordered, and only had to return one unit, and as a result was out $36 to FEDEX it back; very prompt refund on my C/C.

There is another issue too; listening at the dealer helps to eliminate a lot of things, but I am never certain I want to buy until I hear it at home, so that gets us back to the issues stated above,unless you live quite close to that dealer.

Different strokes....

If you are not where the dealers are...the internet can be a very useful way to go.

Also; if a "local" dealer is let's say several hours away from you, he may be willing to ship a unit to you with the provision that it is returnable within 10 days or so; another route to consider.

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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If anyone thinks that any Bose product qualifies as "high-end", put on the dunce cap and stand in the corner.

Then, please, don't mistake popularity as a guarantor of quality!

commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

I am certainly not making that mistake; please go to Art Dudley's original statement and you will see that he is not either. Only as you take things further and further out of context are these quibbles possible, which requires an intentional distortion. Let's not ignore the original context for the sake of straining to make a point, OK?

I think the key point is that Vandersteen products are only sold in high-end audio stores. People actually LISTEN to speakers in these stores. Art was specific in the way he qualified his remarks, and I'm sure he SAID "HIGH-END" to exclude mass-marketed crap like Bose, which probably does sell more units through mass marketing at huge retail outlets.

I think I detect sophistry, Buddha; let's not crawl out on a tangent just for the sake of an argument...lol.

My comments were entirely based on Art's review of the 2CE, so if you want to quibble, read the whole damn thing and then send your criticisms to HIM, not me!! (January 2007)

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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding


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I am certainly not making that mistake; please go to Art Dudley's original statement and you will see that he is not either. Only as you take things further and further out of context are these quibbles possible, which requires an intentional distortion. Let's not ignore the original context for the sake of straining to make a point, OK?

I think the key point is that Vandersteen products are only sold in high-end audio stores. People actually LISTEN to speakers in these stores. Art was specific in the way he qualified his remarks, and I'm sure he SAID "HIGH-END" to exclude mass-marketed crap like Bose, which probably does sell more units through mass marketing at huge retail outlets.

I think I detect sophistry, Buddha; let's not crawl out on a tangent just for the sake of an argument...lol.

My comments were entirely based on Art's review of the 2CE, so if you want to quibble, read the whole damn thing and then send your criticisms to HIM, not me!! (January 2007)

Sorry, man, I was kind of goofing off.

I like Vandersteen speakers, but I still recall the ads for BSR turntables that proudly proclaimed, "Two thirds of all the turntable sold in the world are BSR."

Conclusions based on popularity drive me crazy, but I agree with your point about the quality of his speakers!

Fair?

Carry on.

Buddha
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Well, heading back into the topic that I helped wander off...

Above frequency "X Hz," I think satellite speakers tend to offer more performance per dollar than floor standers.

The trick is deciding whether the low frequency response and efficiency are to your liking.

Much controversy, of course, and no generalization is universally true.

I really mention this to make sure you consider the smaller size speakers in your quest.

I am intrigued by the new Sunfire satellites to match with an active woofer.

I think they were mentioned in Stereophile's sister magazine, which has something to do with video.

prudz
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Hi everybody!

I wanted to give you updated on my quest to glorious sound! After some long listening, I've chosen to go with a pair of demo B&W 704. I've tried quite a few model at the same price (Epos M16i, Totem Staff, Focal chorus 816V, the Linn Majik 400, the B&W CM7, the Monitor audio RS6 to name those) and found out that the 704 were the best for me. The ones that made my choice more difficult were the Epos M16i. Those speakers had the cleanest mid-range of them all! But still, the B&W were able to go deeper in the lower frequencies and gave more depth to the music. I think they were a great deal for the price and perform very well in my place!

For the integrater amplifier, I tried of course the Rotel RA-1062, but also the Moon i-1, the arcam FMJ A28 and the Nait 5i. I must say the choice was very difficult between the last three (the rotel was in fact no were near). At the end, after listening closely at the three of them, I decided to go with the Nait 5i, since the sound was so great, so crisp, it had depth and everything was beautifully detailed! Another great deal I think!

So that's it. Maybe I haven't made the choice some others would have made, but now I must say I am set for years to come!

Thank you all

Prudz

tom collins
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

it doesn't matter what our choices would have been, you made the choice that counted for you. congrats and enjoy. i have not doubt that it sounds great.

commsysman
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Re: Bookshelf vs Floorstanding

Congratulations; sounds like you are liking what you hear!

The Nait is one unit I have never heard, but I have read some comments on it that lead me to believe that it is very very good. I didn't think that the Rotel would impress you much if you gave it a good listen; there are many better units for the money.

Enjoy!!

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