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Speaker Buyer’s Guide: On YouTube

Paul Rigby firstly looks at broad issues regarding buying a pair of speakers then examines a range of speakers from differing price points

Mainly aimed at the beginner, hopefully everyone can take something away from this one.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Marcus J. Swift
    24th October 2020 at 8:51 am

    You give great generic tips in this video article Paul, but I can’t tell you how much I wish you could hear what I’m listening to right now. I’ve got my Tannoy T145s, as you know, but also a Yamaha active subwoofer, for anything below 40Hz, and my Technics SL-DL1 direct drive linear tracking turntable, with custom made Van Den Hul cartridge. This record just goes to show how much the initial source is so important. Nigel Martin gave an even better job than his Dad, George, in remixing Sergeant Pepper, and George would have been proud of him. I do have other “landmark” records, such as my 1958 Malcolm Sergeant Holst Planet Suite, recorded on just two microphones, into one EMI BTR2 half track recorder. Another one I have, which is virtually unique, due to the limited run, is the Technics Audio Inspection ’80 – a twelve inch 45rpm record, made exclusively for Technics, by Phillips, to showcase Technics audio systems. By God it was good, and I still listen to it now. What I’ve got is volume 4, so there were clearly others, but I’ve not come across them.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th October 2020 at 10:59 am

      Sounds like you’re having a great time there, Marcus! 🙂 Glad to hear it and good to hear about it.

      • Reply
        Marcus J. Swift
        26th October 2020 at 11:56 am

        Thanks Paul. I sure am, and I’m currently waiting for delivery of my “new” Technics RS1500 reel-to-reel, from Germany. I think it will be an improvement on my old quarter track Super 7 and half track Logic 7 Ferrograph recorders, and it can play both half track & quarter track on the same machine.

        Anyway, as you were asking in the video, I thought I’d add a list of ten of the best speaker brands, and their models, that I’ve come across or owned in my time, at different price points, just for interest. I think there are a couple of lesser known curios in there too. Here goes…

        Tannoy.

        Well I would say that, wouldn’t I? To me, dual concentric Tannoys are at the absolute top of the tree, with perfect phasing. If I had around £6,000 spare, I’d be buying some of the Tannoy Eaton speakers you reviewed! As it is, my trusty Tannoy T145 speakers will do me nicely, as they have for many years. If the T145s ever pack up, I’ll probably look for some second hand Tannoy DTM-10 professional studio monitor speakers, from the 90s, as I have heard the 8″ DTM-8s in a friend’s recording studio, and they were great, but I’ve generally found that 10″ bass drivers are better than 8″ in my experience. The reason I love Tannoys so much, is the bass is rich & deep, yet never wallows, and indeed mine outperform their claimed low frequency response, which I’ve measured. That’s why I only cut my sub in at 40Hz. The treble is crisp, yet never harsh, and the brilliance of the dual concentric design is so good as to be almost unbelievable, creating a detailed three-dimensional sound stage, in sharp focus.

        The rest of my list is in no particular order…

        B&W.

        I used to have some second hand B&Ws in the 1980s – 600s as I recall – and they were great, but I really wanted the 802s, that I couldn’t afford, but listened to a lot in the local hi-fi shop. The ideal would have been the 801s, of course, but they were even beyond pipe-dream pricing!

        Wharfedale.

        They have made some fantastic speakers over the years, and I’ve had a few of them, from W10 10″ full range drivers on baffle boards (my earliest speakers, when I was a kid – my Dad gave me them), through a couple of 80s models (were they called “Laser” 60s & 90s?), to the baby Diamonds, which were surprisingly good, given their size & price. When I had a desktop computer, I used Diamonds as the computer speakers, with a Technics SU-V2 amplifier, and I still have them on a secondary hi-fi I’ve got. You’ve never really experienced the old Windows XP welcome music, until you’ve heard it through some Diamonds! Some of Wharfedale’s newest speakers are apparently outstanding, but I’ve not had the opportunity to listen to any of them yet.

        Rogers.

        I’m particularly thinking of the ones they made for the BBC, to use in studios and location recording wagons. From memory, I think the model was LS7, and they really were good. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a little time as a guest in BBC recording studios and wagons, though not nearly as much as I’d have liked!

        Lowther.

        As far as I know, and please do correct me if I’m wrong about this, Lowther are probably the premier manufacturer of high quality full range drivers in the world. As you’ll know, they make their own horn speakers with them. Their drivers are also often used in other people’s horn speakers, and you can buy them on their own if you wish. My Dad uses 8″ full range Lowther drivers in his “Panosona” Worden horn cabinets, and that’s the only reason I know about them!

        Linn.

        I’ve only listened to Linn speakers once, in a demonstration room, as part of an entire Linn hi-fi system, but they were astonishingly good, and I was honestly surprised, as their fame was more for turntables at the time, rather than speakers.

        Celestion.

        The local hi-fi shop used to have a massive pair of Celestion Dittons, which had a vast “size of sound” that their physical size suggested they would, and they were pretty amazing. As you’ll know, Celestion were once the best known speaker brand in Britain, and probably the most respected for a long time. They were also the creators of great stage amps & speakers, most notably used by The Beatles.

        Quad.

        Although I’ve always felt that electrostatic speakers lacked what I’ll call “true” bass, you certainly couldn’t fault them for their clarity, which was staggering. Again, the local hi-fi shop used to sell the ESL63 (I think that was the number), coupled with Quad’s own amplifiers.

        JBL.

        The first one I’ve mentioned outside of Britain! But then, we’ve always made many of the best. I had some JBL Control 1s, and they were incredibly good for such a small speaker – astonishing in fact.

        Bose.

        Talking of small speakers, a lot of audiophiles hate the Bose Acoustimass, but I actually quite liked them, for their unexpected performance relative to size, and because they brought decent sound to people who lacked space, or whose family or partner objected to decent sized speakers. I got some for a girlfriend once, because she didn’t want the intrusion of big cabinets in her living room, and they were remarkably good really.

        Anyway – that’s my list. Hope people enjoy it!

        Kind regards,

        Marcus.

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          27th October 2020 at 10:37 am

          Thanks for the list and the insight, Marcus. Appreciate you taking the time.

  • Reply
    Ben Armine
    24th October 2020 at 2:56 pm

    As requested in the video

    At Level 1 Q-Acoustics offer excellent sound quality at very reasonble cost, in particular the now delisted Concept 20. The current cost of the Concept range is somewhat exotic. Listening to other systems the 3020i offering is recommended, altough I have yet to hear the upgrade 3030i.

    Moving up to levels 2 and 3, there are many names in the hat the Audiovector range, with a really sweet implementation of the ATM ribbon tweeter, walks tall. The entry level QR1 has a front facing port allowing the speaker to be positioned close to walls, in bookshelves even.

    Must agree with the preference to separate amplifier from speaker, and isolate the base of the speaker from what it is standing on as much as possible .

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th October 2020 at 10:52 am

      Excellent, thanks Ben!

  • Reply
    John Norris
    26th October 2020 at 10:50 am

    I would like to give a shout out to the Dynaudio Emit M10s (£500). A really capable all rounder of a speaker for small/medium rooms. I had a pair of B&W CM1 S2 (hate these names) and they were really lovely to look at, good with classical but always got the impression they thought rock was beneath them. The M10s are ugly ducklings in comparison but I prefer their sound. Spendor A1 are also good (£1200 now), ideal for small rooms also. Harbeth P3ESR a refine joy and sadly on their way to extinction now (some may still be around for £1800). Best ones I think I’ve heard were Falcon Acoustics (the BBC ones). Wow.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th October 2020 at 10:53 am

      Thanks for that John – interesting list.

      • Reply
        John Norris
        26th October 2020 at 11:05 am

        I should also add that I would really like to hear the Acoustic Energy AE500s again. I only had a short demo before they were officially released and they also sounded very impressive even at low volume in a small (hotel) room… nearly every review I’ve seen since gives them maximum stars for a £1000 speaker and say they outperform their price band. They would be on my next demo list for sure…

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          26th October 2020 at 1:46 pm

          Good call, John.

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