Do speaker wires matter


I recently was given a pair of Mirage M1 speakers. All highs, mids and lows work but I don’t believe they sound like they should.

The tweeters are not giving the detailed highs. I am not sure if the mids and lows are where they should be.

i am currently using a vintage 2226b Marantz I just had restored. Impedance is 8 ohms and it only puts out 26 wpc. I know these speakers require A much more powerful amp. I’ve done a little research on this.

im wondering if the speakers could not sound as good because of the Marantz and/or also because of the speaker wires I’m currently using. I don’t know what gauge they are. They were given to me as well. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

i did also find a Mirage technician in Canada who still repairs them if I’ll have to take that route. No turning back now 😊
em2music
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I agree the Marantz is probably underpowered for these speakers.
How long are the speaker wires?
Yup.  Mismatch of amp capabilities and speaker needs.  Speaker cables aren’t even a rounding error at this point.  You need either a new amp or new speakers. 
Speakers. Your amp is fine. Just need speakers with another 10 dB sensitivity. 93dB and you will be fine.

Want to save yourself a lot of time, money, and headaches? Never even consider anything less than 92dB. Just cross it off your list. Too many fabulous sounding 95dB+ speakers out there to be killing yourself trying to solve a problem so easily avoided.  

And yes, speaker cables are huge. Every bit as important as every other component. Its just right now you have other priorities, like finding a good Tekton, er I mean high efficiency speaker.
I'm with MC on this one. So many good higher sensitivity options. 

The last thing I need now are more speakers (famous last words) but when I do I'm going to finally try Tekton. Or giant Tannoy. First world problems. 
Those were very nice and highly regarded speakers back in the day.  I remember a time I was looking seriously at M3's.  Your amp, as the other reasonable people on this thread have already told you, is seriously underpowered.  If the M1's are really 83dB, then you will need some muscle, but it should produce very good results.  Worth dealing with the speaker cable, but start with the amp, anything else will be a probably ineffective bandaid.
Thanks so much for the feedback! So it’s sounding like if I were to get my hands on the proper amp and speaker wires to go with these speakers, they would sound infinitely better?  If so I would like to consider it. As I had mentioned before, there is sound coming out of the highs, mids and lows - just not too great. It’s sounding like I still wouldn’t at least hear the quality of these speakers at a very low volume with this amp because of how little the power it has to deliver. Just confirming that before opening up the speakers, taking out the tweeters and sending them off to be sweetened or rebuilt.

i am very new in this world so please excuse my ignorance.

I appreciate all of your insight and knowledge. 

Ive never taking a risk like this in picking up speakers like these, or any for that matter. A friend suggested I do it. He knew the previous owner who is sadly no longer with us and they wanted someone to take them. I went for it and am hoping they don’t need to be repaired, but if so I will probably look into it.
Start with a more powerful amp first and use the wires you have.  Later on, if you are enjoying what you hear, only then would I look into speaker cables.  
Mike - the speaker wires are a little over 9ft.
Thank you stereo5. Will try that out!
I also wanted to mention that I do own a Crown Base model PB-2 I used for my sound system for live music. It’s maximum output is 400 wpc into 4 ohms at 1khz with no more than 0.1% THD. (I have no idea what most of this means)

Would using the Marantz as a preamp and going into this be an option or would you advise against it?
Those M1's were fun speakers. You may really enjoy them. They are not finicky but they do need good current going to them to do them fair.
Are the ones that you have the bi-wire bi-amp version?
Here is a review!
https://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/689mirage/index.html
Not nearly as well as good room acoustics.


Yogiboy-I don’t believe so. Only 1 left and right/speaker if I’m understanding you correctly.
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I still have M3sis and they do have advantages ie type of sound which mostly can’t be gotten with sealed/ported box speakers.
Firstly the foam surrounding your drivers may have gone bad. You can inspect to see (I have directions somewhere how to take them apart).
You will need a more powerful amp. When I bought mine 30 years ago I was recommended a 75 W class A amp (worked well). Mine has several db more sensitivity so you’ll need more than that. Least 100-150W. High current solid state might be ideal. No clue about class D for this situation.

I’m sure you know these must be placed away from back wall, so hope you have a big room.  
And if your speakers each have two sets of binding posts you have to have separate jumper wires between the two red and two black binding posts (on each speaker) or biwire them ie run 2 left and 2 right speaker wires from the amp to the two sets of binding posts.
Berner- they’re in a carpeted finished basement. Ceilings are 6’10” with 2 ducts running across and covered with drywall at about 6’1” height l. The basement is about 40ft x 25 not sure of square footage. There is alot in the basement to interfere with the sound as well ie. Furniture, drum kit, DAW on desk with monitors etc... cluttered.  I do keep the speakers about 2 ft away from the wall. 

There is only 1 red and black on each speaker. 

I currently have my Marantz going into 2 JBL HLS810 bookshelf speakers and they sound much clearer than the Mirages in terms of hearing the highs.
OP, what did your system sound like with your previous speaker cables?

You do have an amp/speaker mismatch but I'm curious.
Lowrider - this is the first time I’ve hooked them up (both sets of speakers). I used the same speaker wires for both.
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Tvad- I do but they’re not putting out much. I literally have to press my ear up against them but I hear all 4 of them.
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tvad - that sounds like a good plan! Thank you for the info!
Sounds reasonable.  If the issue is the mirages, you might ask the repair person in Canada if it sounds like a foam repair issue or a driver issue, and feasibility of fixing that.

Basement is plenty large enough, though a 5' tall speaker in a 6' tall basement must be a sight.  I suspect you'd be better off with the speakers at least 3' away from the rear/side walls.  If you google the ancient reviews on the M1s, they may give you their opinion on the topic.  Or just experiment.

If the speaker works or can be made workable, an idea to save money is to buy used SS amp (of enough watts).  Just make sure it has been had capacitors replaced (if needed).  

Let us know how it turns out and how you like them.
I bet those speakers sound great!. I would like to hear them.

Efficiency: your speakers are very low efficiency. 83 db/1w/1m means they ONLY make 83db sound volume when given 1 watt measured 1 meter away, They need far more power than your Marantz, your Crown is plenty.

Happily, your Crown has gain controls on the back. like volume controls would be if on the front.

https://rocknrollvintage.com/listing/crown-power-base-2-power-amplifier/14177109

1. Hear your speakers with enough juice, your Crown Amp, your existing speaker cables.

a. First, turn Crown’s rear gain controls down to zero. spin them full turn several times to ’clean’ the internal contacts, then down to zero.
b. One Favorite CD with highs/mids/lows (see h below)
c. CD player direct to the Crown as a test.
d. Crown direct to speakers using existing speaker wire.
e. ON, hit play on CD player, wait till it’s into a track first.
f. Now, you can increase the rear gain controls bit by bit until you get a satisfactory volume.
g. turn the gain down low, some but not a lot of sound: listen to each driver to verify they are good.

h. DO NOT try another CD, without first turning the Crown’s rear gain controls back down. Some CD’s have significantly higher output that others.

2. TEST the MARANTZ as a Preamp to the Crown.

Marantz’s controls might be dirty, it might have an unknown problem, that is why it is the 2nd test, after you have determined the speakers are fine with the Crown.

a. Unplugged: turn all volume/tone/selector controls several full turns to ’clean’ them. Good enough for this test.
b. Crown Gain in the middle of it’s range to start
c. Marantz volume down.
d. Same CD
e. CD player to Marantz; Marantz to Crown, Crown to Speakers using same existing speaker wires.
f. Marantz Volume up half way IF not too loud.
g. Adjust Crown rear gain for good normal listening volume.
h. Marantz Volume, fully up too loud? Crown down. Not enough, Crown Up.

Note: Marantz controls might need further cleaning. If you hear static, or they seem inconsistent, if you know how, take the bottom off, front plate off, spray them/work them with contact cleaner/lubricant. Clean all the rear jacks while you are at it.


"Never even consider anything less than 92dB. Just cross it off your list. Too many fabulous sounding 95dB+ speakers out there to be killing yourself trying to solve a problem so easily avoided.  "                                                                                      Ok,so we cross off most of the Wilson line,the Vivid line,the Dynaudio line ,the Harbeth line, the Focal line ..on and on and on...thats the dumbest thing I've read on this site in a long time outside of your constant Tekton shill post..give us all a break with this ,please
Since it hasn't been mentioned yet the speakers being dipoles need to be placed fairly far out from the front wall in order to balance the sound.

I would try them 5'-10' out if possible playing around with toe in, maybe even zero toe in.

However, them being too close should not decrease the HF balance (quite the opposite I would think as most of the cancelation would be in the mid/lower frequencies).

DeKay
Everything matters.
"Never even consider anything less than 92dB. Just cross it off your list. Too many fabulous sounding 95dB+ speakers out there to be killing yourself trying to solve a problem so easily avoided.  "

Funny! The few Tekton speakers I've seen the measurements for have been under 92db. Although they are stated to be higher.
OP stated he has a 26wpc amp with 8 ohm output impedance. His speakers are 83dB, 6ohm. The speakers are not the best match for sure, as he will benefit from moving to a speaker presenting an easier load. A Tekton 4 ohm speaker wouldn't be my first choice (although it would "work") and I wouldn't want to pair that amp with a speaker designed by someone who claims 8 ohm designs are obsolete anyway.

There is a whole world of 8 ohm speakers with 90dB+ sensitivity to consider based on your sonic tastes.  Don't let anyone try to direct you into just one brand....that only means they have an agenda.  Way too many choices in the market for that ridiculousness.
+1 three_easy. And IME, there aren’t tons of 95dB+ speakers available.
OP... I think you’ll find many more speakers are in the 90dB+ sensitivity range. And 8ohm is preferable for your amp.

Had a pair of Mirage M-5si.  A Rotel 990 power amp drove those to good effect (into 4 ohms was putting out well over 300wpc)  Phenomenal room lock in the bass from two 6.5 inch woofers!  The mirage speakers were clearly voiced on the dark side so don't expect a lot of sparkle from the tweeter regardless of amp/cables.
Agree, mine are warm and a bit laid back. If you like bright forward speakers...there is no shortage of options.
Issues not discussed yet -- at what volume do you listen and how big is the room? 

The power needed by a speaker is logarithmic, not linear. At the sensitivity noted in earlier posts, 1 watt of amp power should give you 83 dB of volume at one meter from the speaker. Double that to 2 watts for 86 dB, double again to 4 watts for 89 dB, 8 watts for 92 dB and so on. That's for an average volume level, so you still need some extra power for dynamic peaks.   The sound level drops as you get further away from the speaker, but the room can add back some reinforcement.  Larger rooms need more power to achieve the same volume.  

So, back to the first question -- how loud do you listen? For me, 85 dB average at my sitting position is about as loud as I like it these days. I've actually measured the amp's output at this volume and, depending on the music, I use about 1.5 watts average to hit 85 dB at my listening position with 88 dB sensitivity speakers in a 15' X 23' room.  

With your speakers, that 1.5 watt output would need to be roughly 5 or 6 watts. Keep in mind you need more than that to handle the dynamic peaks.

Now, if I were a headbanger and  wanted 100 dB+ volume in the room, I'd need roughly 100 watts, plus more for peaks. 

Keep in mind all of these are just rough approximations. 

One of the takeaways is you need to get your hands on a sound level meter. That's the only way to get a solid idea of your volume needs. Besides a dedicated meter, there are also apps you can buy for your smart phone, though the calibration accuracy might be dicier. 

But, if you were happy with low to moderate volumes, 26 watts a channel might be more than enough. However, keep in mind that we haven't even scratched the surface. Placement of the speakers within the room is a critical issue. Also, the manner in which this amp interacts with your speakers is also important. Some speakers have very demanding impedance curves that can really tax an amp. Some amps just can't handle certain speakers.  You might see if you can temporarily borrow a different amp to see if that makes a difference.  I'd get everything else working better before I started worrying about cables. 

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider. But the more you know about your listening needs, the more likely you are to reach a solution that pleases you.
Wow... thank you so much for all of this insight! I now realize that I am dealing with way more factors than I could have imagined. Elliott,  I will think on using the crown powerbase 2. I have a friend who will also let me borrow his amp. Thank you for the detailed instructions on how to set that up.

missstl thank you for explaining the difference in sound the mirages put out vs others. There’s so much I am unaware of on this topic. I will see how it performs with a different amp.

My speakers are in my carpeted finished basement with 6’10” h ceilings. There is also some clutter as well which could interfere. I don’t know the exact square footage. The most wide open section approximately 42’x 20’.
When the time comes to upgrade your speaker cables try to use cables that are as short as you can. The 9ft cables are OK but I try to use speaker cable lengths much shorter than that.
When the time comes to upgrade your speaker cables try to use cables that are as short as you can. The 9ft cables are OK but I try to use speaker cable lengths much shorter than that.
@em2music:  I was not familiar with your speakers but looked them up — very nice gift someone made to you, especially if the drivers are in good shape!   With half the speakers rear-firing, it would seem that positioning out from the rear wall/corners would be important to the final sound.  And how nice to have such a large room to experiment with placement.  Have fun!
The Mirage M1s are an interesting speaker. Not only are they big and heavy, they are dipoles - they radiate both forward and backward. As a result, speaker placement is absolutely critical - they cannot be placed up against a wall with any expectation of sounding good. Gross sound quality for these guys will be more a placement issue than any other single factor.

You might want to read the Stereophile review here: 

https://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/689mirage/index.html 

Regarding your amp, let's set the amplifier myth to rest - a bigger amp will play louder, but not necessarily better. While the M1s aren't the most difficult load to drive, they aren't particularly easy, either. Marantz amps typically handle lower impedance load adequately, without triggering their current limiters that protect the amp but absolutely trash both the speakers and the sound. At 83dB/W/M per speaker, a pair adds 3 dB - 86dB, actually pretty loud. going to 2 watts, 89dB. add 10dB (10X the power - 2X10 =20W) for dynamic peaks in the music, 99db. So a 2226, while pretty low powered for these speakers, should push the M1s to reasonable levels. Disco loud, no. Living room loud, yes. A 100W/Ch amp would move the scale up 6dB, a 200W/Ch amp, 9dB. At normal listening levels, even a 2226B would be just cruising.  And while a bigger and better amp will sound, well, bigger and better, it's not going to have much impact on the sound quality issues ("The tweeters are not giving the detailed highs.") you are describing.

Speaker cable? Unless you are running 20 or 30 feet per speaker or more, 14 Gauge Clear vinyl zip cable is perfectly adequate from a power perspective, the power loss is insignificant.. You might be able to notice a minor improvement by spending hundreds of dollars, but only after other factors are attended to.

There is a final consideration. The Mirage M1 is more than capable of revealing shortcomings in your source material, most notably digital sources. After properly positioning your M1s away from room boundaries, consider the source. If you are listening to your average streaming from, say, Amazon, or God forbid, Sirius, the 'digititus' from low bit rate, repeated compression, encoding and decoding, would be quite apparent on speakers of this caliber. 


@chilli42, there is no difference in sound of a 3 foot pair of speaker cables to a 9 foot pair of the same cables.  If you think otherwise, it is a myth. 
@stereo5 , not true if your speakers are 6 feet away 😉

OP, you should try that other amp you have.  Its free and would take less than an hour to try.
I would bet more on buying a decent amp and decent speakers.  I am sure speaker wire can make a slight difference, but how much do you spend is another question.  I would think speaker wire under $1,000 would be sufficient.
If you had said the wires were 30 feet long, I’d say, look for wire with relatively low inductance. (High inductance will cause a rolloff of high frequencies and may interact with the speaker and/or amp.) It’s doesn’t have to be expensive -- the Belden wires sold by Blue Jeans Cable measure well in that regard (and others).
b_limo will definitely do that first! Thanks!