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Old Audiophile
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Sequel to "Time to Upgrade Speakers"

Actually, this is a sequel to "Time to Upgrade Speakers". Despite the cruel interruption wrought by Covid-19, I'm back in the hunt and still interested in knowledgeable guidance more than ever.

I've now critically listened (for hours on end) to: Monitor Audio Silver 500 & 300; Focal Aria 926 & 936; Triangle Esprit Australe EZ; Dynaudio Evoke 30; Vandersteen Model 1Ci; Aerial Acoustics 6T; Martin Logan Motion 60XTi; KEF R7; Spendor A7; Totem Hawk; Paradigm Prestige 85F & 95F. Next on my hitlist are the Revel Performa3 F206 and the GoldenEar Triton 2+. I'd love to hear the PSB Imagine T2 but can't find them anywhere close enough to do that. They must be selling like hotcakes because shops can't keep them in stock and they aren't ordering anymore. PSB must be getting ready to replace and/or update them. Damn! Day late & a dollar short!

Of course, doing all this critical listening in different shops, sound rooms, with different componentry, etc. makes it difficult to attempt to extrapolate what I'm after for my listening room and with MY componentry. And, of course, virtually all these speakers sound great with amplification that costs 3 and 4 times what I have! I wish salespeople would just stop that! Even with scheduled appointments, I guess some of them just can't help themselves.

I'm going to preface the following by saying that all the speakers I've auditioned, so far, have been and are very nice, indeed. I certainly do not want to denigrate any of these very fine transducers. For different ears, different listening rooms, different budgets, different componentry, etc. any of them might very well be the perfect fit for somebody. However, for my needs & purposes (we all have needs; don't we? Even nicer when we have a purpose) here's what my reconnaissance boils down to:

The Monitor Audio Silver impressed me but I heard them driven through amplification that costs 4 to 5 times and has twice the power of what I have (same CD player, though). Not a fair audition. Regardless, even with the 20 to 25 thousand bucks of muscle used for that audition, I still didn't get that WOW factor over what I already have.

The Triangle, also played through 3 to 4 thousand bucks of power in another unfair audition did WOW me but only for instrumental music. I was, surprisingly, curiously and immediately let down with vocals. Never had such an experience before, even with cheap speakers. Despite what the salesman said, and he heard it too, I'm convinced there was something wrong with those demos. Too bad! Probably would have bought them on the spot.

The Focal Aria 936, played through my amp, were wonderful but out of my budget range unless I can find demos or a great discount.

The Aerial Acoustics 6T, also played through my amp, were similarly wonderful but also out of my budget range. Push come to shove? I'd go with a pair of Aerial discounted demos despite the fact they played better with a tube amp.

Heard the Martin Logan Motion 60 XTi yesterday through a 60 watt NAD integrated (about half the power of my MAC MA5200). Those babies did some very nice things, indeed, and left me wondering what I could get out of them with my MAC. Regardless, it wasn't enough of an epiphany for me to take them home for a trial and dissuade me from curtailing my plans to audition the Revel F206 and GoldenEar Triton 2+.

So, at this point, I'm kinda hoping either the Revel or GoldenEar make me say: "Jumpin' Jehosaphat! That's it! My quest has ended! Here's my check!"

Any other ideas out there?

Kal Rubinson
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"Of course, doing all this

"Of course, doing all this critical listening in different shops, sound rooms, with different componentry, etc. makes it difficult to attempt to extrapolate what I'm after for my listening room and with MY componentry."

Tough is an understatement.

Old Audiophile
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NEWS FLASH!

Completed another marathon critical listening session last week (about 3.5 hours) with the Revel Performa3 F206 and the PSB Imagine T2. An advantage, this time around, was being able to hear these on a MAC amp identical to mine and a CD player not too dissimilar to mine. The sound room was different, of course, but, acoustically speaking, not wildly so. Speaker cables used were/are a bit more expensive than my AudioQuest. Both these speakers were/are outstanding representatives of this price point and very similar in performance. However, I found the PSB low bass response to be a bit looser than the Revel and the Revel's soundstage and imaging a little better than the PSB. On all but 1 track of heavy low bass material, the Revel were tighter, faster and more accurate, in my opinion, despite what the frequency response specifications for these 2 indicate. Another testament to how speaker specifications tell you almost nothing. One caveat to this, however, was that neither of these speakers were on spikes in a room with wall-to-wall carpeting. I'm assuming the PSB would have benefitted from spikes but, to my ears, it sounded like the Revel didn't even need them. They weren't boommie in the slightest. I was amazed! I'm assuming the PSB would be less boommie on spikes & tighter. The other thing I noticed, straight away, was the Revel's excellent sound dispersal off-axis, even radically off-axis. The PSB were certainly no slouch in this regard but the Revel were surprisingly good. Everything else from upper bass through midrange to high frequencies was, as far as my ears could discern, outstanding for both speakers. I'm tempted to believe the Revel were maybe just a half a hair crisper & cleaner but that's probably a bias because they impressed me just a tad more than the PSB under the circumstances both of them were auditioned in.

As a result of this latest escapade, my present short list is both of these speakers. Later this week, I'll be auditioning the GoldenEar Triton Two + and the Martin Logan Motion 60 XTi. I'm expecting this will be my last audition before my ears make a final decision. Frankly, I'm hoping the GoldenEar are everything the reviewers say they are because they would be a better fit for my listening room because they are more slender. If they don't seal the deal, however, I will ask to audition the PSB and Revel again but, this time, with both of them on spikes.

So, any pearls of wisdom out there in the great audiophile ether? Anyone care to make book on what I'll post next week because, God willin' & the crick don't rise, I'll certainly let anyone who cares know what my ears decided.

Old Audiophile
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NOT YET!

Thought I'd bring this up to date for anyone who's interested.

Earlier this week, a friend and I completed another round of serious seat-time with the Martin Logan Motion XTi and the GoldenEar Triton Two+. This time around, the ML sounded amazingly better than the first time I auditioned it. That first time was with a 60 watt NAD integrated that I think might have been a Class D design but I'm not at all sure about that. This time, I auditioned the ML with a 125 or 150 watt Class A/B design Simaudio Moon integrated. The differences were as stark as night and day! Much better with the Moon! The GE was not what I was hoping it would be; not at all what all the reviewers have been saying about it. However, the GE and the ML were not broken in. Reportedly, the GE had maybe 30 hours of play time on it and the ML around 45. I can't recall what the recommended break-in times are for either of these speakers but it seemed to me they both needed more maturing. Also, the sound room we were in left a lot to be desired. So, I don't consider this a fair audition for either speaker. As such, I'm in the process of trying to arrange another one with a different shop who, hopefully, will have demos that are broken-in and a better sound room(s).

bierfeldt
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Auditioning

Auditioning is a brutal process and evaluation is even harder when the other system components can be wildly different than yours and you need to understand how they work in your space. It is important to consider lots of parameters like distance from the back wall, space between the speakers, how big is the room, how far you will be seated and ultimately what you will be using to drive them.

Because of difficulty with auditioning it can be like playing whack-a-mole every time you make a change. Everything factors in and only when considering all of these variables can you make a wise and informed decision. Even then, you will not know how it will perform until it is in your room with your system.

A fair question to ask any retailer is what is there return policy, how long does it take to break in the speakers and are they any quirks in how to set these up. Do they need a minimum distance from back wall? What about spacing? Any product that takes longer than the return window to break in is a serious risk and if the speaker needs 3' from the back wall to be at its best and you only have two... I wish you luck but if you ask lots of questions, hopefully you won't need it.

Disclosure - I am the owner of Verdant Audio and the importer for Art Audio.

Old Audiophile
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UPDATE TIME!

Bierfeldt, good to hear from you! Hope you and your loved ones are doing well!

I tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange another audition of the GoldenEar Triton Two+. After all this time and effort, this felt like being just a hundred feet shy of summitting Everest! The shop I was communicating with simply failed to respond to my last few contacts and I ultimately grew weary of chasing them around. Irritating, to say the least! I certainly would have loved auditioning those GoldenEar under proper conditions, if only to complete my mission. Unfortunately, this was the only shop left within reasonable driving distance. So, I made a decision based upon what I'd heard to date because of the time and effort invested (i.e. several years of recent focused reading & research; approximately 18.5 hours of serious critical listening seat-time with, at least, 16 different pairs of speakers). Ultimately, what it all came down to is what it always comes down to (i.e. what sounded best).

The Revel Performa3 F206 were simply the best I'd heard in my budget range and then some. Truly impressive! They did, indeed, elicit that WOW moment! I extrapolated, as best I could, what a broken-in pair of GoldenEar Triton Two+ might have sounded like in my listening room, did more reading & research, spoke with audiophile friends and had on-going communication with the sales person where I auditioned the Revel and PSB. In a nutshell, I'm confident the Revel was/is the best choice because of their design (i.e. front-firing ports; high frequency driver design; etc.) and my listening room's acoustic properties. Even with sufficient break-in time, I surmised the GE's would likely be an inappropriate fit because of their design (i.e. passive radiators; AMT tweeters; my listening room's right channel placement limitations and the wall directly behind the listening position).

So, that is how this cookie crumbled. The new babies are on order and I pick them up at the end of next month. I can report in again after they are properly broken-in, if anyone is interested.

David Harper
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correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you've only auditioned dynamic drivers in wooden boxes. I suggest you try something better. Either electrostats or magnepan ribbons. Also, to attempt to compare so many different speakers is a futile exercise. You can't do it. By the time you're listening to the third or fourth one you can no longer remember accurately what the first one sounded like. There are too many variables. And how they sound in a showroom doesn't really mean anything. I bought maggie LRS. On acoustic music they're the best I ever heard and I've heard a lot of dynamic drivers in wooden boxes. On loud electric music (rock) they don't sound so good. But that's probably an inherent feature of the music.

Old Audiophile
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To Each His Own

David, your posts regarding your love of your Magnepan LRS are legendary. I am sincerely happy you love your Maggies and I truly, truly mean that. Every audiophile should be happy with the equipment they ultimately choose and love the sound of the music their cherished components can deliver. I understand, completely, that it is virtually impossible to know what speakers are really going to sound like in your home, your listening room, until you get them there and set them up properly with your components. For those of us who prefer live demonstration in various audio shops prior to making a purchase, we simply have to do our due diligence with regard to reading & researching, be cognizant of all the variables you allude to while auditioning, muster all the audiophile skills we've acquired over the years and make the best informed decision we possibly can. By no means would I consider this a "futile exercise". I would have loved to audition your Maggies or, for that matter, more expensive ribbon and electrostatic speakers because of how highly you recommend them and, also, how generally well reviewed some of them are (e.g. Herb Reichert 7-18-19 Stereophile). However, there are 2 major reasons I did not audition ribbon or electrostatic speakers in my upgrade quest. The most important one is that they are too wide for my room placement limitations and have other room set-up issues that would make them inappropriate for my listening room. Secondly, and this is a definite bias of mine, my ears have never preferred the performance of any electrostatic or ribbon speakers I've heard over the years, including some ultra-expensive ones in very exclusive high-end shops where they were properly set-up for auditions. As a fellow audiophile, I trust you know that, probably more than any other audio component, speakers are a very personal, subjective choice. Some ears prefer certain audio signatures that others don't. BTW: I wouldn't describe GoldenEar Tritons as "dynamic drivers in a wooden box". This is your bias showing.

David Harper
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point taken

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