Best Speakers 2018

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by pippenainteasy, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Wanted to create a parody title since we already have a best headphones 2018 thread. :D

    I'm looking to build a nearfield setup, to me it seems like concentric drivers is the way to go nearfield for imaging. Seating location will be approximately 2 feet away.

    My top candidates right now are the 2 active and 2 passive speakers. Wondering if anyone has any opinions. I do I have Mini DSP DDRC-22D so that should reduce some of the DSP advantages of active speakers, as DiracLive corrects for impulse/phase/power response.

    Active:

    Genelec 8341/8351

    Genelec_8351_SAM_Active_Studio_Monitors_with_DSP_White_Pair_3.jpg

    Kii Three

    wifimedia-introduceert-de-kii-audio-three.jpg

    Passive

    TAD ME-1

    1.png

    Kef Reference 1

    kef_reference_5a_600x.jpg

    I'm able to demo the passive speakers at dealers, but not the active ones, I would have to order them online. I am leaning towards the passive speakers because I have light dimmers in my listening room, and I think that contributes to active speakers being extremely noisy due to AC line noise (buzzing or loud hissing of the tweeters with active speakers as their amps are run flat out) which really reduces quality of life for nearfield speakers. I doubt I will be able to stand the constant buzzing when no music is on, and I'm not sure a UPS/power regenerator will be able to fully fix it, as I have tried a medical grade isolation transformer and that seemed to help a little, but the transformer itself was so loud it destroyed any of the improvement from slightly reduced buzzing/hissing.

    Was also looking at the ELAC Adante but I don't have any way of demoing that speaker, would have to buy online to demo. I'm also looking to demo a custom/prototype speaker by Ascend Acoustics using cutting edge drivers (Seas T29D0001 diamond tweeter and a Seas Curv woofer with Hexadym magnet) although it will be a traditional 2-way, not sure that will be as good near-field compared to versus a coaxial, even if the drivers are out of this world.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  2. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    2,043
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    The Kef Reference 1 speakers are $7,999 each - so is it safe to stay your budget is at least $16,000?

    I can't tell if the TAD's are 13,000 dollars or pounds and whether that's each or for the pair.

    If you're in the 5 figure range, you will probably be better served by an audiophile forum.

    Also, you left off the Kef LS50w - which are usually described as punching well above their $2200 (pair) price point.
     
  3. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,632
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    What are you going to use to drive your passive choices (dac/amp, integrated amp, AV receiver)?
     
  4. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Not many audiophiles seem to know much about nearfield or concentric drivers from what I've seen, only active speaker forums like gearslutz even know anything about active concentrics.

    My budget is 10k. TAD ME-1 is $12k msrp but most dealers will offer discounts if asked, and I can get them for around 9k.

    The Kef Reference 1 is $7999/pair retail, not each.

    I've demoed the KEF LS50W at Magnolia Best Buy in their listening room and wasn't that impressed. It was too thin sounding and the image wasn't very large.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  5. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    I have an old receiver I will probably keep driving until it croaks. It's a Yamaha RX-Z11 and using MiniDSP DDRC-22D for room correction, using optical cable to PC.
     
  6. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,632
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    That Yamaha is a beast, to be sure. My desktop setup is in my sig. I think bookshelf speakers need a subwoofer to get the best all-around sound. Of course, I've never listened to speakers on the level of those you're considering.
     
    N4CR likes this.
  7. HammerSandwich

    HammerSandwich [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,104
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Does the Kii work properly at 2'? I've read a lot about this speaker but don't recall seeing any comments about that. Might be worth looking in the Gearslutz thread, though the S/N is pretty poor.

    Also, anyone who's considering Kii, should check out the Dutch & Dutch 8C.
     
  8. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    2,043
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    There is an active Kef owner thread on the AVforum but it's harder to find info on other concentric brands.

    Sure more PC users use nearfield, but my Q100s are probably 98th percentile and the pc audio community tends to have very few people with even a basic knowledge of acoustics and speaker setup.

    Might put some of your budget on an acoustician...
     
  9. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,043
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
  10. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    I highly doubt Genelec amps are going to buzz at all. IIRC they have 120+ db signal to noise levels.
     
    N4CR likes this.
  11. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Not the amps, I am talking about noise floor/ambient noise coming out of the tweeter. Actives are normally louder than passives.
     
  12. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Heh, the amp is the one causing the noise from the tweeter. Genelecs are the best of the best in studio monitors.
     
  13. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Some people seem to think the drivers are better in Focal Be series whereas Genelec has better DSP.
     
  14. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Of course its a matter of opinion as everything is in audio. Even Genelec has questionable products in the smaller range but once you get to 3-way-ish size they're usually superb. Not to say that some 2-way models are also excellent. But the entry level smallest models are just lacklustre.
     
  15. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,438
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    The JBL 7 series are others you should give a serious look to. Available in both powered and non varieties they are pretty amazing. Really, really solid sound stage and neutral sound. The woofer and tweeter blend seamlessly (that's why they have the waveguide/cone). They will do digital input, if you like that, so you could be pure digital from your PC to your DSP to your speakers. Do note if you get the unpowered ones, you still need to get a JBL amp, as they do at least some of the crossover is handled in the amp (I'm not 100% clear on it, I've never encountered the non-powered ones IRL).

    A passive consideration would be the B&W 805 D3. While B&W definitely charges for their name, their sound is great. Really a pleasure to listen to and you find some big name studios using them too (Abbey Road likes B&W 800 series speakers). They have a whole line of them too if you want floor standing speakers (the 805s are the only bookshelves in that line).

    If you like active, concentric, speakers you could also look at the Presonus Sceptre speakers. I wasn't all that impressed though, their imaging was good, but no better than my SVS speakers, and their amps had a slight audible hiss when nothing was playing. Still, if you can find some to check out maybe give them a listen, some people really love them.
     
  16. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    I find the B&W 805 D3 way too bright personally, and the mids too recessed. It doesn't have the timbre or the resolution I am looking for in the vocal range.

    My current reference speaker is the Revel Performa3Be M126Be which is what I am using. I did manage to demo both the TAD ME-1, KEF Reference 1, and Ascend Sierra Diamond recently.

    The TAD was a bit too bright with cymbals and other percussion instruments (indicating to me a rising response above 8k) and the bass was a touch delayed sounding. I believe the woofer if wired in negative polarity would integrate with the concentric driver better, because my impressions did match the Stereophile measurements (IR and FR). But the image was quite large and impressive. The KEF Reference 1 was the total opposite and so rolled off in the upper mids and treble that I was having trouble making out details, and the bass was muddy--I suspect I was slightly outside of the sweetspot and these speakers don't cast a big image. The Ascend Sierra Diamond reminded me a lot of the neutrality of the Revel M126BE but the woofer played a lot deeper, and the tweeter was a tad less hot than the Revels in the upper mids while maintaining the resolution and neutrality in the vocal range which is one of the biggest things I look for in speakers.

    I also previously demoed the Joseph Audio Pulsar, Paradigm Persona B, Revel Ultima2 Gems, Dynaudio C1 Platinum, Sonus Faber Olympica I, Salk Silk Monitors, and Usher BE-718 DMDs.

    I'm probably going to sell the Revels and upgrade to the Ascends, but I'll like to hear the Genelecs and Kii Threes at some point.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  17. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Yes the TAD has superb imaging. The sound feels 3D even off center which is very rare. I wish I knew how they achieved that.
     
  18. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Some people buy multiple headphones. I ended up going with multiple speakers lol.

    xRT1ABF.jpg

    So Dr. Earl Geddes says that people prefer to listen to live and acoustic music on wide dispersion speakers, and studio music with speakers with narrower dispersion. I feel like that's definitely the case. When I'm running with the narrower dispersion speakers (the Ascend Sierra Diamond's Seas T29D001 tweeter starts rolling off around 20 degrees off-axis...) I definitely play a lot more studio music. And with the KEF's I definitely play more live or acoustic music since they are much more spacious sounding. In the end there was no end game, just swap based on music preferences. I definitely feel for people who collect a bunch of TOTL headphones now...
     
  19. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    I always thought the exact opposite because narrow dispersion speakers take you in the stage where wide dispersion brings the music in the room. Studio recordings lack natural space so they sound dry and artificial on narrow dispersion.

    I don't know if Earl was quoted wrong on this or if he really thinks so.
     
  20. kamxam

    kamxam [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,538
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Still using my old Swan D1080MKII speakers for my PC. Considered going with something newer but they still have good sound for being around 5+ years old.
     
  21. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,632
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    KEF LS50 in all black. Never thought I'd spend $1200 on a pair of speakers and still believe I got my money's worth out of the deal. I love these babies!

    IMG_20190402_202544.jpg
     
    spaceman, xmadror and sethk like this.
  22. sethk

    sethk [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,615
    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Congrats. I have heard the LS50 in my system and they are really great, if slightly amp / source sensitive (IMHO). Truly a groundbreaking speaker at this pricepoint and has brought KEF a lot of new customers, up and down the price points. Their active speakers are very good too (only heard the LS50W, but the LSX is great from all accounts), especially for those with receivers or other lower end downstream components.
    My PS Audio amp sounded a little dry with the LS50s, which kept me from buying at the time. I am currently using a mini Maggie system with dual bass panels, which I love except for the slightly narrow sweet spot. I may move the Maggies to my bedroom and retest the LS50s for the gaming room when I buy a new amp.
     
    Commander Shepard likes this.
  23. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,632
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    You're right about the power needed to drive the LS50. I use a Crown XLS 2502 power amp (440wpc). Teeth rattling sound, FTW! :ROFLMAO:
     
  24. xmadror

    xmadror Gawd

    Messages:
    656
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    I have been interested in a nearfield setup for a few years now but never got around to even try one.
    Like it is said earlier in the thread there is next to no information available on most of those speakers and they are also very rarely available on the used market where I prefer to shop to get a lot more for my money.

    I'm also a Kef lover!
    But I like them bigger and well fed!
    GetAttachmentThumbnail.jpg 1.jpg

    Kef 105.2
    Harman Kardon Citation 16 serie A (tested at 180W RMS per channel, fully rebuilt 4 months ago with custom face plate)
    Sansui 2000x receiver, used as preamp until I can find better
    Schiit bifrost 4490
     
    N4CR likes this.
  25. Night_Hawk-19

    Night_Hawk-19 Gawd

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2004
    Have my edifier s760d for my speakers.
     
  26. JoshM

    JoshM n00b

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2019
    I currently have the Ref 1, but have been debating an upgrade or a second pair. Have you held on to both the Sierras and the Ref 1? I was also debating trying your old speakers, the M126be. Did you have a chance to compare those head to head with your two new pairs?
     
  27. N4CR

    N4CR 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,708
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Yeah I vote for them. Solid and enough to produce and master on, friend has a pair of genelecs few years old and with room treatment they shine.
     
  28. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    What do you feel is missing with the Ref 1?
     
  29. JoshM

    JoshM n00b

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2019
    Nothing. Just always interested in trying new speakers.
     
    xmadror likes this.
  30. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    M126Be has more midrange dynamics than the Reference 1 but this shouldn't be a surprise, most dome and cone designs do, this is simply a trade-off for going coaxial since the midrange must be excursion limited while operating as a waveguide. You can use a larger tweeter like 1.5" but the trade-off then is you lose some high frequency dispersion above 7k, which is what TAD does with their Reference coaxial drivers.

    What's your listening distance? Coaxials are really good for imaging at 6 feet or less, nearfield-ish range. If you sit farther away a good dome-and-cone speaker will start pulling away because the midrange dynamics are just much better.

    As far as an upgrade, the only bookshelf I would think is a straight upgrade (i.e., better at almost everything) on the KEF Reference 1 would be the TAD CR1, which is a good $12k+ on the used market. It's also gigantic and weighs 102 lbs/ea.

    If you sit say at least 2.5 m away I would say M126Be, Buchardt S400, or Amphion Argon 3S would be worth a shot, they are good dome and cones designs with better midrange dynamics than the KEF, wider horizontal dispersion but less even vertical dispersion (which isn't an issue outside of nearfield generally).
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  31. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,177
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Genelec is considered the standard for nearfield monitors, but a certain audio industry professional, David Clark, revealed to me and my fiend that the Behringer Truths cost a fraction of the Genelec cost and couldn’t be distinguished as inferior or even different in a blind test he preformed with some of his audio meet friends. Nor objectively with industry measurements were they significantly different. s David hangs in pretty elite audio circles (including Geddes) and audio was his life’s work. He was a member of this Audio group. Sadly he died in the last year or two.
    http://djcarlst.provide.net/smwtms.htm

    He bought 7 Truths and used them as his speakers in his home theater/listening room at home. You might consider a pair of smaller Truths. Each speaker has a frequency response capture taken and included as a QA step. I had those Truths and replaced them with JBL 305 and later the 306 because I like to try different things. But the Truths were better speakers to my ears than the JBL. I’d like to try the ribbon based Truths at some point.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  32. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,843
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    That is because the Truth is basically a copy of an older Genelec model. I have also JBL 305's and Behringer Truth 2031A:s. Excellent price performance but IMO the original Genelec beats the Truth especially in dynamics and bass. But price is of course many times higher. Now the new Genelecs with DSP etc. are at a different level.
     
  33. JoshM

    JoshM n00b

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2019
    Yes, I’m listening nearfield, only slightly more than an arm’s reach away.

    How did the Diamonds compare to the Ref 1 in your listening? Neutrality and detail retrieval are my highest priorities. (I actually found your post because I was Googling to see if anyone had compared the Ref 1s and the Diamonds, which have intrigued me ever since I first read about them.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  34. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    May 20, 2016
    Diamonds are a lot more dynamic than the Reference 1s, especially in the mids, but so are most good 2-ways that have separate drivers. In the nearfield, a 2-way with separate drivers won't ever have the proper vertical dispersion compared to a coaxial driver system. Humans aren't that sensitive to vertical axis localization below 1KHz, but you need a hell of an impressive tweeter to build a 2-way with a crossover that low. No naked tweeter will be able to pull it off, you will need a compression driver tapered to a large horn or waveguide. If you want an upgrade and aren't looking to put money down on a TAD CR1, I would suggest you look at getting proper room correction software. Either get a Minidsp DiracLive box to run between your source and your amp, or sell the Reference 1s and buy the Genelec 8351 and use their GLM software.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019 at 12:52 AM
    JoshM likes this.
  35. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,438
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Only 2-way speakers that I can think of with a sub-1kHz crossover are the JBL M2s. As you say, it does do with a large compression driver. They are big bois :D.
     
  36. JoshM

    JoshM n00b

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2019
    Thanks. Very helpful response. The TADs have always been dream upgrades. Guess the Diamonds aren’t the shortcut option I was hoping for, at least in my setup.