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#14941 - 07/15/03 05:06 AM Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
ZeN Offline

Registered: 07/09/03
Posts: 125
Loc: San Diego, CA
Ok, so for all of you guys here that dont frequent the AVS boards, or that may ignore me there :P - I am pasting a post from there that summarizes my expirence so far...

*note, I just finished writing this, and realized that it is long as hell - so for the impatient/busy people out there, you can skip to the bottom and find my conclusions *

I thought you might like to hear my impressions/opinions of the speakers I auditioned today. I spent roughly 6 hours at 4 stores:

The Home Theater Store (really high end stuff for the most part)

Tweeter (chain store, has some high end stuff, but mostly consumer level)

Fry's Electronics (chain store, Polk Audio is their "high end" brand)

Good Guys (chain store, some really decent speakers, but all consumer level)

ALERT - DISCLAIMER - ALERT - Make no mistake, I'm a complete nOOb and do not intend to sound like an audiophile. These are my impressions, and if I missuse words, or you dont understand me - I'm sorry

FYI - My budget is $2000-$3000 for the complete 5.1 surround system.

At The Home Theater Store the only speakers I listened to (and could afford) were: Paradigm Monitor-7, Monitor-11, Reference 60 v2 and Reference 100 v2. James assisted me, was more than helpful and put up with my constant questions and speaker switching.

Over all I REALLY loved the sound of the Paradigm's - nice full sound, not too high and not too boomy.

1. Monitor-7 - I loved the sound this speaker produced. Very complete in its "fullness" and provided plenty of detail in the highs, while keeping a nice balanced mid range sound.

2. Monitor-11 - I was expecting to really love this speaker, I mean, it could only be better than the 7 right? WRONG - It was muddy and seemed to lack a lot of what I loved about the 7. Some of the differences could very well be attributed to the difference in receivers. This one was an 80 watt per ch, while the one powering the M7 was 120 per ch.

3. Reference (studio?) 60 - A very nice speaker. Seemed to do a better job at accurately reproducing the low frequency sounds than the M-7 did, but it was very close. It had a very mellow sound to it when compared to the M-7 though.

4. Reference (studio?) 100 - I'm a little torn in regard to these speakers. While they sound fantastic, they also dont seem to have the same clarity of the M-7. They are quite a bit boomier, and didnt strain as much when pushed as the M-7's did.

5. Paradigm conclusion - I want to hear the M-11 on a better receiver, but overall the cost/sound quality ratio kicks serious booty with the Monitor 7's. I'm also interested in listening to the reference v3 speakers, I read somewhere that they just came out.

The Tweeter Expirence... I auditioned Vienna Acoustics Bach (had never heard of them), Mirage OM-9's, and Mirage Omni 260. Bob was my sales person here, and he was a bit on the pushy side - but not too bad.

1. Vienna Acoustics Bach - this was a "nice" sounding speaker. For its price though, it wasnt up to the sound quality of the Paradigm's which were all cheaper except for the r-100. The sound was very dynamic between the mids and highs, but really lacked low frequency sounds.

2. Mirage OM-9 - I honestly thought these sounded like poo... It was on the same receiver and in the same room as the Vienna (and omni for that matter). Very flat sounding, and poor dynamics.

3. Mirage Omni - these "looked" cool on the Mirage web site, so I just had to hear them. I was surprised how much I liked them, especially after being so disappointed by the OM-9. The highs were nice and clear, the mids full, low frequency sound wasnt bad and, for the price they're a pretty good deal. Still, they dont compete with the Paradigm's for my money

The Fry's Guys - Ever felt like you were a part of a circus shopping? Well head to Fry's, they often have great deals (I got my receiver there, a Harman Kardon AVR-8000, a steal at $999.99), but you have to put up with audition rooms with open back walls(not just a door mind you, a WALL is missing), but sales persons that know less about sound than I do (very little to begin with:P). On with the list.... I auditioned only Polk Audio speakers here. They dont carry any other brands that I am interested in.

1. Polk RTi150 - I think I really liked these. I need to find a place that isn't as loud and take another listen. They had a nice full sound, good highs, good mid, and good bass. In fact, more bass than I expected - thought maybe a sub was on or built in, but found none.

2. Polk RTi70 - I'm not going to complain about the environment again They sounded good, but I need to go back (maybe find another retailer, or hit a different Fry's).

The Good Guys - it dosent get any gooder... or does it? Here I auditioned Klipsch RF-5, Klipsch RF-35, Energy C-7, and Monitor Audio Silver S8.

1. Klipsch RF-5 - Nice, really bright highs, good mid range, decent low. Very loud when compared (on same receiver and same volume levels) to all other speakers at The good guys. Almost sounded like a live performance - really airy and somewhat hollow.

2. Klipsch RF-35 - About the same as the RF-5, only smaller and slicker looking. Really need magnetic grill, but other than that, it has the same issues as the RF-35.

3. Energy C-7 - A very nice well rounded speaker. Seemed like it was being pushed all of the time, I was afraid we would kill the poor little guy while we were playing Track 8 on DMB, Crash. They didnt seem to have the same fullness as the Paradigm's or Plolk's, and I felt they are a bit overpriced at 499.99 each.

4. Monitor Audio Silver S8 - A very nice speaker. On par with the Paradigm's in many ways. Good full sound, maybe a little laid back (but then again, so are the Paradigm's) and nice highs. They are also a little more expensive than all of the Paradigm's except for the R-100.

So there you have it, a blow by blow recollection of my 6 hour auditioning day. My overall conclusion you ask?

1. I really loved the Paradigm's (if you couldnt already tell )
2. I liked the Mirage Omni, wouldnt mind hearing it in my house, but I dont think it stacks up to the others I'm considering.
3. I need to find a decent place to listen to the Polk's - they have great promise IMO.
4. I have to keep the Monitor S8's in the loop. They sounded great, and can take quite a bit of juice (just in case I want to piss off the neighbors)
5. I still want to hear the Axiom E80 set and the Ascends before I make any decisions.

Thanks for sticking with me (to those of you who read the whole thing)!

Thoughts, opinions, point, counter point? Let me hear it!


#14942 - 07/15/03 05:08 AM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
ZeN Offline

Registered: 07/09/03
Posts: 125
Loc: San Diego, CA

/Begin Update
Just thought I'd post a follow up - went to a CC today to check out the Polk's - ended up listening to some Infinity's as well.

1. LSi150 - Sounded good - didnt have quite the range of the other speakers I've been listening to. Too much low end for my tastes, and the mids werent as clear as I'd like. Quite average overall IMO - and a little overpriced to boot.

2. Infinity Alpha 50 - I was really surprised by this one. Good solid sounding lows, not overpowering. Very nice and crisp mids and highs, good balance of sound. Sound reproduction was excellent as well. Going to have to add these to the short list...

I'll be auditioning the Ascends tomorrow - and if all goes well, the Axioms this coming weekend.

/End Update


#14943 - 07/15/03 11:32 AM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
chesseroo Offline

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 5117
Loc: western canada
In reply to:

Thoughts, opinions, point, counter point? Let me hear it!

I don't think you really want any counterpoints here.

It sounds to me like you enjoyed the sound of the Paradigms and they fall into your price range. There really is little point in asking anyone else what they think since it is completely what you think that matters. However your thoughts on so many speaker brands is admirable. That must have taken some time.

On that note, if you do any more further reviews before you decide to buy, keep in mind that speakers played louder often sound better so during your auditions, even though they are in different locations, with different equipment, if you could at all set the volumes the same while listening to the same music it would help your brain better make a decision on the sound. Do not let the salesman turn up the volume knob on you.
Bringing along a clipboard for taking notes is also useful since the brain has a very short memory for sound detail (for lack of better words).

Good luck with your continued search.
"Those who preach the myths of audio are ignorant of truth."

#14944 - 07/15/03 01:30 PM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
sushi Offline

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 1490
Loc: Dallas, TX

I have only two comments here...

(1) You should really visit to as many additional higher-end, specialized AV dealers as possible, rather than places like CC and BB. Many products demo'ed at the higher-end stores may not be within your budget. But that doesn't matter at all -- you will much better learn there about what kind of speaker sounds you prefer in general, and that is what really counts in order to make a better-informed purchase decisions. In addition, the demo environment at CC, BB, UE type of stores is often abysmal. So, try to "bother" as many local higher-end shops as possible.

(2) This has already been mentioned in your thread at the AVSforum, but I second the opinion that, since you obviously like the Paradigm sound, it is likely that you will be very happy with the Axiom sound, too. Don't forget that the price of the Axioms is significantly lower as compared with the Paradigm combo with comparable specs/configurations. In other words, for a similar price you can always get a bigger/better combo with the Axioms.

#14945 - 07/15/03 01:45 PM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18029
Loc: NoVA
ZeN, I was quite impressed with the Monitor 9s that Peter (pmbuko) owned. When we listened to them in contrast to the Monitor 7s, they were superior. However, I was blown away by his new M22s. They outshone the Monitor 9s by a long way. I think you'll like the Axioms.

I also second Sushi's suggestion to go to higher end stores. Listen to some Magnepans. Those are still my favorites (although I can't have them because of cost and WAF issues. Also, my cats would destroy them.) I think that I like them better than the Revels ($15000+) that I heard in the same shop as the Monitor 9s. However, that could just be memory clouding the issue.

I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

#14946 - 07/15/03 02:02 PM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
Pinoy Offline

Registered: 10/26/02
Posts: 115
Loc: Kansas City, Missouri
Sushi's comment #2 applies to me too. Of all speakers in my price range that I auditioned, I liked Paradigms. IMHO axioms look better, sound better, and definitely cheaper. Good customer service comes in as a bonus.

I bought the EPIC 80 and I am happy with my purchase.

#14947 - 07/16/03 02:53 AM Re: Auditioning I will go!!! (and have been...)
ZeN Offline

Registered: 07/09/03
Posts: 125
Loc: San Diego, CA
Thanks for all of your great comments... I agree I should hit some high end stores, I think tomorrow sounds great! Take a 2 or 3 hour lunch.... Yeah!

Heard the Ascends tonight - nice speakers, but I honestly think they just arent "large" enough for my setup. I could be dead wrong, but hey, its my money I am still keeping them on the short list, however, because the bang for the buck is really quite good.

I'm really looking forward to hearing the Axioms - they have really intrigued me from the first second I saw them and read about them. And if they are as similar the the Paradigms as everyone is telling me, I cant see myself happier.

Thanks again, and I'll keep you all posted!


Edited by ZeN (07/16/03 03:15 AM)


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