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MattyT
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Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Hello everyone, my name is Matt and i am 16 years old. I have just recently became interested in the world of Stereos. I started out with a all-in-one Fischer turntable/receiver, and I would listen to old records. Soon enough I became interested with high-end audio equipment and slowly but surly wish to build my system.
I have a CD changer which is good enough for now. I have only purchased two new pieces of equipment. A Harmon/Kardon 3385 receiver and a Stanton Turntable. I now wish to get some good speakers to accommodate. I have a older pair of Radio Shack 60W bookshelfs. I am not sure as to which brand or series to look into, because I have very little to go on.
I don't have alot of money because I only have a minimum wage job. I am willing to spend about $400-$500 for the pair. Would another pair of Bookshelfs be good? Or possible some floorstanding speakers. In my area there are no places to go and try out anything, unless I can convince my pops to drive to manhattan, so I will have to buy off of the internet. I listen to all kinds of music but specifically Classic Rock. So please any help to point me in the right direction is greatly appreciated.
Thanks alot!

bobedaone
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Save some money and check out a pair of Paradigm Atoms ($250). Also audition the PSB Alpha B1 ($280).

smejias
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Hi Matty!
Thanks so much for joining the forum. First of all, I want you to know that it makes me really happy and excited to hear of people your age who are interested in high-end hi-fi.

Second, wow, there's so many good speakers to choose from! Right now, my top choice for a high-quality inexpensive loudspeaker is the PSB Alpha B1 ($279/pair).

But I also really like the Aperion Intimus 532 ($360/pair). The Aperion plays louder than the PSB, without getting stressed out and distorting the music, but it doesn't communicate quite as much detail as the PSB. That delicacy and detail is what I find really magical, so I'm willing to give up a little ultimate volume.

I'm sure you'll get some more great recommendations from other members here.

Take a look at the loudspeakers in our Budget Components listing and see if any interest you. Then let us know if you have any other questions.

Thanks again for stopping by.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Welcome, Matt.

Bookshelves are the way to go for the best sound for your budget. They're going to be at their best on stands. If you can't get to Manhattan for some auditioning, some dealers will allow returns after a trial in your home.

For some very nice bookshelves including the PSB Alpha B1's and the Epos ELS3's as well as some affordable stands, check out Audio Advisor. They are among the reliable internet sources with a 30 day guarantee of satisfaction and, if you contact them by phone after checking out the site, will be happy to offer advice of the sort you'd get from a good local dealer . Audio Advisor

Best of Luck. Stay in touch.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Welcome to the forum, Matty. I was trying to rememebr my first pair of real speakers, but then I remembered I had the advantage of going from owning Radio Shack speakers to selling audio and being around some terrific speakers ten hours a day. It made the choice much easier for me and I ended up with a pair of Ohm C2's which later got sold so I could upgrade to Double Advents.

What I did find was I had to decide what was important to me as I listened to speakers. I'd been around music for most of my life up until that point so recalling the sound of live music was a simple task which I eventually found not so simple for many of my customers. Most of the clients coming into the shop never listened to live music and had no clue what to listen for when judging speakers. Quite honestly, most picked what they picked based upon the music I played for them once they began expressing a preference for a JBL over an Advent or an AR over a Dahlquist.

As with my past clients I would want to know if you listen to live music and whether you hear a quality which you think is important in live music that you also need to hear through your speakers. If you don't listen to live music, tell us how will you judge whether a speaker is "for you" or not? Have you thought about it enough to have developed a criteria for judging music playback? Can you put it into words?

I would suggest the speakers you buy now will not be speakers you choose to keep for more than a few years. You will learn more about how to listen if you buy a good pair of speakers today but you will not get your money back when you go to sell them. You will earn more and eventually want more. One way to maximize your investment right now is to buy a pre owned speaker which can get you back most of what you paid when the time comes for you to move up. Let's say you bought a pair of these speakers;

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrmoni&1190412680

or

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrmoni&1190716124

or

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrmoni&1190327943

You could use the speakers for a few years, sell them easily and get back a large chunk of what you paid for them. I'm not suggesting any of those are the speaker you should buy right now, just giving examples. Those are three very different sounding speakers which all represent the designer's concept of what is important in music and achievable in a certain package size. While all three are different from each other, they all three convey the essence of music as the designer hears it. Without deep bass.

On your budget you must decide what sort of bass response is important to you. Deep, clean bass is not available at $500 per pair. Quite reasonable good bass with moderate extension is available at your price. My advice here, know what you need and buy what you need. Classic rock seldom pushes a speaker's bass extension. A speaker that can get to around 45-50Hz will give you 95% of what is required as far as bass reach. Giving up another 10 Hz to buy a speaker that reaches to 55-60Hz will still sound good and will likely have a better midrange. For my own tastes, the best lesson I was provided when I first listened to speakers was, "Get the midrange right and most everything else will follow."

That's a difficult lesson to learn when you are 16 and listening to rock which thrives on bass lines. However, buying "bass" in your price range will give you speakers which lack in other areas. This is where knowing what is important to you will be valuable. Do you want lotso'bass? You'll want a big box for that. Big bass requires big boxes. Do you want lotso'volume? You'll need a fairly big box for that too. It's a clasic trade off which speaker designers must make. Bass, volume and box size are all tied together. When you change one, you change the other two. Big boxes can get you lotso'bass and lotso'volume. It's merely a matter of physics. The other side of that immutable law is big, cheap boxes resonate and tend to smear the sound of the bass as well as the midrange and sound like "speakers" rather than music. You get to decide whether you wish to spend your money on the box or the speakers inside the box.

So, you'll see most of us suggesting small boxes with high quality drivers (speakers). They will have what we consider adequate bass response and volume for their size and a real but fair trade off of bass boom for midrange clarity. We'll suggest speakers which we would own. Speakers which "disappear" and leave behind musicians performing music. Speakers that, if we were held to a budget, we could listen through. Speakers we like.

What we like might not be what you like. You need to tell us what you expect from our suggestions. Do you want big bass and lots of volume? If so, we need to know before we suggest a dozen speakers you won't like. Do you think you would like a speaker with top notch midrange but restricted bass extension? Most importantly, when you listen to music, what are you listening to? What, to your ears, says, "that sounds good"?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Have you started reading Stereophile yet? Have any of the speakers the magazine has reviewed caught your attention?

MattyT
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Thanks for all of the suggestions so far! The research that I have done has pointed to the PSB's, and there is a dealer located only a few miles away from my house, so I could walk there one weekend and take a look see.

As far as the sound I want, I want volume, bass does not have to be "In your chest" but a little punch would be nice. I also happen to play drums, which is a mixed bag in terms of listening to music. I concentrate so hard on trying to hear the beat, I some times dont pay attention to other instruments. A good example of this is when I was listening to Beast Of Burden by the Rolling Stones. Before when I heard the song I would only hear Charlie Watts slam the 2&4 on the snare, I never paid attention of the Guitar work of Keith Richards. I was blown away when I heard it and must of listened to the song 4 or 5 times after that!

Poor Audiophile
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Welcome Matt! Glad you've joined us!!
I second the idea of subscribing to the mag, if possible.
I myself have NHT Super Zeros & an NHT subwoofer.
These guys here really know their stuff & they are willing to help us newbies. Best wishes, Larry

Jan Vigne
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Re: Very new to the game, need some help with speaker selection

Matty, I thought there might be more recommendations after you gave us an idea what sort of sound you were after. I have the feeling "I want volume, bass does not have to be 'In your chest' but a little punch would be nice" steered you away from what many of use would make our first pick.

Though they would not be my first choice, you should listen to some JBL's and a pair of Klipsch if that's the sound you're after. If volume is a concern for you, you should be looking for a speaker with a relatively high sensitivity spec. Buying a speaker with a spec of 90dB @ 2.83 volts/1 watt will give the impression of doubling the output power of your amplifier compared to a speaker spec'd at 87dB and four times as much power as a speaker rated at 84dB. As the sensitivity spec goes up, the amount of power required to drive the speakers to high volume will decrease. I've seldom seen a high sensitivity speaker come in for repairs due to a low power amplifier. On the other hand, a low sensitivity speaker will often be damaged by amplifier clipping - asking the amp to play louder than it safely can. It is far simpler to buy volume in the speaker than in the amp. When you get to shop ask them to demonstrate the difference in volume level achieved with a high vs. a low sensitivity speaker when played on the same amp with the volume control set at the same position. Note that high sensitivity doesn't tell the entire story and you would also want a speaker that is an easy load on the amplifier in terms of impedance and electrical phase angle. Most competent shops can direct you toward the right choice for your amplifier.

When you go to the shop, take along a few favorite CD's for audition.

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