My Speaker Journey ... £1500 and £4000 and the Rabbit Hole.

Witterings

Well-known member
Speakers tried:
Monitor Audio Silver 300's
Acoustic Energy 509's
Spendor A7's
Focal Aria 926's
ProAc D20R's

My journey began having upgraded my speakers in a kitchen / living room with a Denon M39 Dab from Monitor Audio BX1's to Elac B5.2's ... I felt my main lounge speakers which were a 17 year old set of budget AE surround speakers, the floorstanders for stereo were lacking / muddy.

I only wanted to spend a few hundred pounds for something that would pair with my Denon Surround and initially was looking at Elac 6.2s or Dali Oberon 5's .... in hindsight I wish I'd bought one of those and probably would have satisfied my initial itch and given me the upgrade I wanted and would have been happy.

Amazon messsed up an order for the Elacs so cancelled and was going to order the Dali's and saw a pair of Ex-Demo MA 300 Silvers, .... £1100 ... OK ... just do-able budget wise and surely a £1500 speaker should be better than the Dali's?

Arrived ... and immaculate ... Loved bits of them, the bass and mids so rich and warm and absolutely brilliant at playing at low volume .... any songs that are "elevated in their vocals" though became unbearable.
I then read more about matching Amps with speakers and surround amps aren't great for driving a dedicated stereo set-up / can be bright so bought an Arcam SA 30, known to be neutral / warm hoping it would tame the speakers and it wasn't any different.
I'm not knocking these as they obviously show the detail for what it is and if it's a bad recording make it evident .... good / warmer recordings they're lovely.

Next tried Focal Aria 926's ... not quite so bright and overall their detail was overall better so thought I'd hang onto these ... longer term listening and 1 hr + if female vocals and you bacame a smidge fatigued ... this really is only a smidge though and they slightly lack in bass .... add a decent well integrated sub and these would be great.

Had AE 309's on a home trial, better kick at the bottom end and overall warmer but too much other detail missing in comparison but overall nice well balanced speakers.

Having been looking for ages found a 2nd hand pair of Spendor A7's ... the kick had real presence ... you felt it which the Focals was missing, vocals and cymbals were amazing until you found the same elevated tracks like the one's the MA's didn't like and they sounded like a transiter radio from the 80's.
The other thing I found was between the kick and amazing vocals on non elevated tracks so much detail was lacking, a track like Alone by Rag N Bone Man .. so much of the track / subtle melody is the bass playing quietly mid range and it just wasn't there.

I'd been looking for a 2nd hand / Ex Demo set of ProAc D20r's for about 4 months, I didn't start this journey with the budget for a new pair so got the dealer list from their website and rang every one until I found some ex-demo at Audiovenue .... they sent them and the courier dropped must have them!

They arrived with a bad dink on one corner which I guess was courier inflicted, was tempted to keep them (offered at a lower price due to damage) but as I loved them / the sound sent them back so they could claim off the courier and ordered a new pair ... I'm still running in but they're absolutely amazing.

I will go back to the Focals as it may seem I'm critical of them and I'm definitely not, one delaer I spoke to the other day said he prefers something slightly more forward and they're one of his favourite speakers which I totally get.
The detail on these .... imagine you were the mixing engineer in a studio and were sitting there saying bring the snare up a tad, cycmbals are just a bit too much so take them back a smidge ... these have the most amazing balance for what a band / recording should sound like and the detail vs their cost is absolutely incredible.
I found the bass marginally lacking having played them at low ish vlunes for about 2 months. "The Boss" went out one day and I found volume 11 :ROFLMAO: for about 1 1/2 hrs .... all of sudden they / the bass came to life ... absolutely brilliant speakers or anyone who wanst thst slightly more forward sound, I'd imagine the 936's are the next step.

The ProAc's though are out of this world if you like a slightly warmer sound, the detail, bass, vocals are incredible and they sju seem to take that edge off of bad recordings ... if you're out dooing demos these are an absolute must on your list.

I'd also like to plug Daren at Audiovenue in Maidenhead .... granted I'd sent him a picture of the a damaged speaker within minutes of it arriving but the way he dealt with a problem was totally professional. I'm sure the couriers will be awkward about paying out but I'll always try and buy anything I can from him in the future just my way of thank you for dealing with a horrible situation so professionally.

If anyone has any questions about any of the above speakers I've discussed please do ask but also interested in hearing others experience / thoughts with any of them.
 
Interesting read @Witterings

What are your room acoustics like? Be surprised how carpets and curtains can dampen any frequency nasties.

Monitor Audio and Focal generally work well with Arcam. However, it's great you've finally found the right sonic balance. Still believe Dali Oberons would work a treat with a wide range of amplifiers, but I'm obviously biased.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Noddy and Nico69

Witterings

Well-known member
Interesting you both comment on room acoustics ... it's probably not so much the room itself which is well furnished but my lack of options for placement which really isn't good but can't be avoided whilst I wish to remain married :ROFLMAO:
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

Witterings

Well-known member
Any chance of showing a pic on room layout?

The lights pretty bad but at least gives an idea.

I've tested the positioning of the dog and lay him where he's most effective as a bass trap. I have a matching pair, one for the other speaker but she wasn't playing ball on that occasion preferring her bed :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:

If I'm having an evening of critical listening I move the chair in front of the speaker on the left out of the way.
 

Attachments

  • Positioning 2.jpg
    Positioning 2.jpg
    165.5 KB · Views: 40

Nico69

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2019
194
188
4,770
Visit site
The lights pretty bad but at least gives an idea.

I've tested the positioning of the dog and lay him where he's most effective as a bass trap. I have a matching pair, one for the other speaker but she wasn't playing ball on that occasion preferring her bed :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:

If I'm having an evening of critical listening I move the chair in front of the speaker on the left out of the way.


Love the idea of a dog bass trap! Highly effective.

You just need to try the Dali Oberon 5's as per the original plan....... ;)
 
The lights pretty bad but at least gives an idea.

I've tested the positioning of the dog and lay him where he's most effective as a bass trap. I have a matching pair, one for the other speaker but she wasn't playing ball on that occasion preferring her bed :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:

If I'm having an evening of critical listening I move the chair in front of the speaker on the left out of the way.
I can see why you've struggle. One speaker is half hiding behind the TV and the other is wedged close to the fireplace... and on hard floor.

Personally I would mount a good standmount speaker on dedicated wall brackets.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr
The lights pretty bad but at least gives an idea.

I've tested the positioning of the dog and lay him where he's most effective as a bass trap. I have a matching pair, one for the other speaker but she wasn't playing ball on that occasion preferring her bed :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:

If I'm having an evening of critical listening I move the chair in front of the speaker on the left out of the way.
With woofer stretched out on the carpet that would make a great caption competition 😁
 
I auditioned ProAcs amongst a few others over five years ago. My write up got lost, but has now been resurrected when the current forum appeared.

Link here:-

 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
I know it's a cliche these days, but if you placed/ mount that tv above the fireplace it would pretty much solve all your problems. Though easy for a stranger to say on the internet it would allow your space to work for you more effectively. Brackets can be had very cheaply.

I'd do this over buying any more gear. whatever you put in there will ultimately sound the same. The room is 90% of sound if not more.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

Witterings

Well-known member
I can see why you've struggle. One speaker is half hiding behind the TV and the other is wedged close to the fireplace... and on hard floor.

Personally I would mount a good standmount speaker on dedicated wall brackets.

I have a pair of Elac 5.2's in another room and dug my stands out of the loft to try them but in the size of room they were totally lost even with a sub which is what made me stick with floorstanders.
i would have to have huge standmouts and I'm not sure how "HiFi Police" friendly they'd be.
 

Witterings

Well-known member
I know it's a cliche these days, but if you placed/ mount that tv above the fireplace it would pretty much solve all your problems. Though easy for a stranger to say on the internet it would allow your space to work for you more effectively. Brackets can be had very cheaply.

I'd do this over buying any more gear. whatever you put in there will ultimately sound the same. The room is 90% of sound if not more.

Whilst I 100% agree with you, the painting above the fireplace was a B'day present to the wife from her late father, if I moved that in favour of a TV I think I'd be meeting up with him again a lot sooner than I'd planned. :ROFLMAO:
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Hi. Love the woofer!

Also, if I remember correctly, the SA30 comes with Dirac, so a professional calibration (or even an amateur one) might help quite a bit with sub-optimal speaker positioning. Other price apropriate amplification for the Proac that has room calibration features is Linn and Anthem STR Integrated, those might be worth looking into - but start with what you already have first.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Your biggest problem (and you know it) is that you're married 🙂

Seriously, your wife should be proud of you for the compromises that you're making in the interests of domestic harmony.

Your room has the potential of being better than many too, not least with the nice carpet that so many lack (often on the orders of their 'better half')

I'm not going to make my re-arrangement suggestions, but if it was me.....
Make sure she knows how lucky she is.
 
Are you still using the AV receiver?

I think with your placement issue, rather than relying on internet sales, “suck it and see”, and creating a lot of ’open box‘ stock, you’d be better off trying some speakers out at a dealer (saving a lot of time), choose the ones you like the most, and try those at home. The dealer audition can be with an amplifier that has or hasn’t got some sort of room correction, but when you install them in your room, definitely use some sort of digital room correction - either the AV receiver, or a dedicated two channel amplifier that WILL drive and control the speakers better. This way, you’ll have some scope for choosing your target curve to find a balance between getting them to sound good in the space they’re forced into, and how you want them to sound.
 

Witterings

Well-known member
Are you still using the AV receiver?

I think with your placement issue, rather than relying on internet sales, “suck it and see”, and creating a lot of ’open box‘ stock, you’d be better off trying some speakers out at a dealer (saving a lot of time), choose the ones you like the most, and try those at home. The dealer audition can be with an amplifier that has or hasn’t got some sort of room correction, but when you install them in your room, definitely use some sort of digital room correction - either the AV receiver, or a dedicated two channel amplifier that WILL drive and control the speakers better. This way, you’ll have some scope for choosing your target curve to find a balance between getting them to sound good in the space they’re forced into, and how you want them to sound.

I did try shop trials 1st (took my amp and streamer) and when I bought them home they sounded completely different so decided it was a complete waste of time and petrol.
All of the ones I did try at home were either Ex-Demo or 2nd hand so I didn't actually create a single new pair of open box
speakers :) .

I'm running them with an Arcam SA30 and have tried Dirac with a number of the speakers I've tried and overall I don't get on with it, this is having used the default curve it creates, having tried importing various different curves and then trying to adjust the one I think is closest manually where I think it needed it.
Whilst overall it does tighten up various areas like the bass it actually loses a lot at the same time, yes tighter but the warmth and depth disappears, try and take the edge off of sharp vocals and again it loses too many other things / detail in the mix that aren't sharp.
The only curve I think I'd use is one that boosts lows and highs in essence recreating what a loudness button used to do and would only ever use it when listening at extremely low volume.

Maybe I need someone professional to manually create a curve for me but I can easily imagine a £300+ bill and not thinking it was much better than anything I'd been able to do anjd not using it.
 

Nico69

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2019
194
188
4,770
Visit site
Just wondering if there is anyway you can reconfigure your room by moving the furniture around? Do you tend to listen to the hifi with others (wife) or more of a solo experience? I would guess that you both sit to watch the TV together?
Maybe you could consider optimising the room for each use? We recently moved our furniture around by 90 degrees after 27 years of the same layout. It really works well and is better for the hifi and TV viewing experience. We were amazed we hadn't tried it that way before.
 

Witterings

Well-known member
Just wondering if there is anyway you can reconfigure your room by moving the furniture around? Do you tend to listen to the hifi with others (wife) or more of a solo experience? I would guess that you both sit to watch the TV together?
Maybe you could consider optimising the room for each use? We recently moved our furniture around by 90 degrees after 27 years of the same layout. It really works well and is better for the hifi and TV viewing experience. We were amazed we hadn't tried it that way before.

Certainly not against moving things around but there are a lot of constraints ... on the left before the armchair and out of site in the picture is a doorway to the hall, on the right hand side behind the sofa you can see is a window and where I'm standing there's another sofa to my left that stretches across to the wall on the left and creates a natural "divide" between the lounge and the dining area that's behind me with patio doors across the back wall.
The fireplace I think we'd both want to keep as a focal point.

Some people have an eye for designing moving things around and whilst we can both appreciate a well done finished article, neither of us are good at "visualising it" before it's done.
 

Nico69

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2019
194
188
4,770
Visit site
Maybe some more pictures of the room could help visualise the space.

What about keeping the speaker to the left of the TV but moving the other speaker to the left of the chair on the LHS of the picture. Is there enough room to do that? You could then adopt a listening position from the sofa on the RHS of the pic listening as it were across the picture. The TV could stay in the same place. Would that work?
 

Witterings

Well-known member
Maybe some more pictures of the room could help visualise the space.

What about keeping the speaker to the left of the TV but moving the other speaker to the left of the chair on the LHS of the picture. Is there enough room to do that? You could then adopt a listening position from the sofa on the RHS of the pic listening as it were across the picture. The TV could stay in the same place. Would that work?

Unfortunately not, the door opening and closing only just misses the arm of the chair so in essence you'd come through the door from the hall to be confronted with a speaker right in front of you ... that's if the door hadn't knocked it over :giggle:

In the past I've tried pushing the TV much further back into the corner which opens up different angles and means I could get the speaker that's currently on the right of the chimney to the right of the TV instead by pushing everything into the recess but the sound from the centre surround speaker just gets trapped / muffled and can only imagine it'd be worse with the mains.

One other option I thought of was moving the TV to where the stereo is (possibly wall monuted) with a speaker either side and building a new shelving unit on the left hand side similar to the one on the right but maybe with doors and shelves and putting the AV gear on there.

I attached a clearer pic that shows the right side a bit better.
 

Attachments

  • Positioning.jpg
    Positioning.jpg
    259 KB · Views: 16

matthewpianist

Well-known member
I would wall mount the TV above where the hi-fi is now and position the speakers either side of the fireplace, ideally with some space between the cabinet edges and the fireplace itself. This would help to make the best of the speakers you have whilst also opening up the possibilities with anything new.
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts