Ever discover cheapo speakers actually sound...

Ever discover super inexpensive speakers sound really decent when main speakers are out of commision?
I am using my main system worth over $30k to play list ~$240 street price $125 speakers, and they sound amazing.
This reminds me of the discussion of when would you get a better sound using expensive amps and cheap speakers or expensive speakers and cheap amps.
They probably sound good because of all the care you put into every other aspect of your system, the problem is these sort of speakers usually dont have the gear or the care in all areas of performance....nor a desire for many to take a hard look at the money they have spent by bothering to find out.....oh yeah and most speakers in that range are obviously poor performers by comparison.
I am totally amazed at the Vintage KLH 6 ( on Skylan stands ) ..I purchased for $1 and refinished the cabs..etc...They sound way beyond what they should.....
I haven't. There's always something out of balance and higher levels of distotion. But you've learned how cheapo equipment can fool our ears into thinking, short term, or on some types of music at low levels, that it sounds pretty good. Many makers depend on this phenomenon, usually by incorporating a mid-bass boost and a mid-treble peak. Listen more carefully, put on some of your more challenging music, and you'll realize that the cheapo system can't live up to it.
I would make an analogy to playing a poor quality recording on a very high quality system. As my system evolved over the years, my initial expectation was that the improvements in the system would make poor recordings sound worse, by reproducing them more accurately. But to my surprise I found that nearly every recording sounded better. I think the reason was that just about every recording gets something right, for instance, part of the mid-range, and my attention would be sub-consciously drawn to what was right about the recording, because it was SO right, and would not focus on what was wrong.

Probably the same kind of thing happens when a high quality system and recording is fed into poor speakers. The speakers manage to get some part of the spectrum right, and that is what captures our attention.

-- Al
Thanks for the inputs.
When I first turned on the inexpensive jbl's, they sounded horrible, but after some time improved tremendously?
Did they need break in, or is my hearing adapting to the new sound, I know they don't compare to my main speakers: merlin. But they sound better than they should for the price point.
Of course my system is way up there in the source and amp areas, but I am quite surprised.
Can anyone explain why at first they sounded bad and then later on much better?
By the way, though I may be critical at times, I am the type of person that likes to enjoy things and make the best of life. When I visit friend's homes I don't have thoughts of how terrible their systems are in comparison to my system. I always see the positive, and I honestly enjoy the sound coming out of their setup. I am fully aware of the deficiencies, but I choose to focus on the highlights. Could that be happening with my temorary speakers, could I be ignoring the negatives.
The merlins are leaps and bounds better, an a/b test would reveal that dramatically, but I find my aural registering perception adapting to the new sound. Maybe I am lucky.
In the end I still know what I like and that is the omni directional sound you get with mbl, it is for me the most thrilling experience.
The short answer is yes.

Most even decent speakers that fit a room properly will sound good with good equipment upstream. The deciding factor can easily become more one of personal taste.
This thread reminds me of the ones asking what's that weird sound my speakers are making where the answer is the speakers can't make sounds by themselves. The puppet and master relationship between speakers and upstream gear dictates that good gear will make any speakers sound better but good speakers can't overcome weak gear.
$240 list price speakers - $30K of gear to feed them and it sounds "decent" compared to your regular main expensive speakers.

IMHO, this is highlighting that you might have a problem somewhere or elsewhere. This type comparison should really be "Night and Day". A speaker is the most influential part of a system provided it is fed properly and placed properly in an acoustically treated room. I note that you have become enamored with MBL (at demos) and yet you have the outstanding Merlin speakers at home....to me all these factors just do not quite add up correctly. Could it be room acoustics or something else?

I don't mean to be critical but I really do believe you should get "night and day" between $240 and $10 K speakers. I would understand if you were comparing $2000 list price speakers against an oddball $10K speaker but you have excellent main speakers! Again I would be concerned and please don;t take this as criticism - my thinking is that if you can identify the issue then you could be much happier. For example is it possible you have a lot of gear and shelving cluttering and crowding the speakers or your listening position? Might one item in the chain be faulty?
Interesting statement RockyV. I have a couple of questions. Since the lion's share of distortion comes from the speakers, no matter what brand or price range, and speaker characteristics vary far more than electronics, how can good gear overcome poor speakers? Since the speakers are the actual transducers of the electronic signal back into audible sound waves, and that transduction and subsequent interaction with the room introduces complexities far beyond what occurs in the electronic signal path, how can upstream components overcome these factors?
Two different speakers in different price classes can be "night and day" but still each sound good in their own way.

The less expensive speakers should likely have more limitations but they can still sound "good" and do the things they do well.

Pedrillo, Shadorne may be on to something. From your pictures, I've long suspected your room acoustics could be quite challenging.

The jury is also still out for me also regarding the benefits versus disadvantages of hanging speakers from bungees rather than coupling them more tightly to the room and it's acoustics.

Have you tried a more conventional approach to locating the speakers as an experiment in particular since having heard the MBL sound that you like?
When I first turned on the inexpensive jbl's, they sounded horrible, but after some time improved tremendously?

I missed this post....clearly you do have a problem somewhere - it us likely intermittent from what you report. Speakers do not sound horrible and then sound good.
If it was not clear distortion or similar noise you heard early on, its possible that the speakers just sounded better after a while because your ears adjusted to the different sound.

I'd like to see a picture of your entire listening room, but I'm suspecting that you might just have tight quarters that might call for a smaller box in order to breathe and sound open and free. That is a good thing perhaps because in general a smaller speaker should cost less to get right than a larger one.

A lot of people fear omnis and their room interactions, but with my pseudo-omni Ohms, I'm finding these are actually less sensitive to room acoustics and easier to place for good sound than other box and planar designs I've used. So I think omnis, again if not too large, are not a bad thing to be considering, but a smaller conventional box speaker design might be able to fit the bill as well.

Like the formula for Coca Cola, your point is written down and locked away in a vault somewhere deep within the Bose corporate headquarters.


Re-enforces the source first theory espoused by Linn an Naim.
I think the statements by RockV and Ojgalli are somewhat reconcilable (and perhaps mostly reconcilable) if we accept that at least some of the sonic differences between different high quality upstream components are audible through low quality speakers.

And I think that is probably true. Obviously speakers and their interaction with the room are typically much bigger determinants of overall sound quality than electronics. But given the many factors and complexities that are involved in accurate music reproduction (a frequency spectrum that is many octaves wide; dynamic range that is orders of magnitude wide; transient response and recovery; imaging, etc., etc.), it stands to reason that if the low quality speakers get just a little bit of this complexity right, equipment-dependent differences in what is being fed into them will be perceivable.

-- Al
Has anyone ever tried 30K speakers driven by, say, 1K of electronics? And if you haven't--anyone willing to send me such speakers? I certainly have the 1K of electronics and it would make an interesting experiment and the results would contribute to the thread.

There is another explanation that works too - if the coloration and distortion from the $240 speakers is subjectively preferred to the much better $10K speakers then you have it. After all, hyper compressed rock/pop music may sound more pleasant on a boombox or a car audio system than a revealing system - especially if all that the $10K speakers do is to better reveal distortion on the recording (mechanical distortion from bad speakers is often better to hear than precisely represented electronic distortion from clipped waveforms on a hyper compressed CD - think Metallica!)
I gotta say Shadorne if you haven't tried what Pedrillo is talking about and have added as much opinion to this thread as you have you look foolish. How can you presume that he must possibly have something wrong in his system? He did say that an A/B showed that the Merlins are leaps and bounds better. I don't mean to be critical either but I must say I disagree with almost everything you said.

Pedrillo, I know exactly what you are talking about. I've done the same thing before and been amazed at how good a 500.00 speaker can sound on great gear. That same speaker was a real snoozer hooked up to a sub 1000.00 system but when hooked up to my main rig, WOW! I've experienced this more than once as well. I've also tried to drive expensive speakers with cheap gear and there my findings were that it didn't sound good. If I had to choose long term ownership of say a Creek or NAD integrated driving 10K speakers or 10K of amps and preamp driving 500.00 speakers I'd choose the latter.

Oh and yes I do believe that speakers that were sitting around cold and uplayed could improve quite a bit after playing them for a while. I've heard the same thing myself, maybe not quite to the degree that you describe.
I currently have weather-worn Realistic Minimus 7's ($100 retail back in the 1980's) on my deck that sound fantastic these days with my current system....leaps and bounds beyond what they sounded like with much lesser gear that I have used them with over the years.
It shouldn't be that surprising. JBL/Harmon has the resources and expertise to be able to put out a halfway decent product at that price. Depending upon how they chose to voice the speaker it could be non-aggressive sounding and its faults being subtractive in nature. I would think that a well sorted out system would make most low cost, but not cheap, speakers sound pretty good.
Good gear overcomes poor speakers due to the gear's musicality. If your gear sounds transparent, natural, liquid or airy any speakers can latch onto it. When the electronics lack these qualities speakers have no means to produce them. I'm not saying good gear can fix your speakers or room; simply that the gear informs speaker behavior way more than speakers do the gear.
Thank you Chadnliz, Thorman, Ojgalli, Almarg, Mapman, Rockvirgo, Shadorne, Onhwy61, Ejlif.
Ejlif thanks for the post, you are right, though Shadorne was in earnest in contributing. In my earlier threads I have expressed my satisfaction with the merlins, in fact I mentioned that I haven't heard any showroom in NYC that leaves me wanting to change save for the mbl's.
What I have noticed is the different speaker executions present different flavors. I used to like the magnepans, dynaudio, piegas, kharmas, jm labs/focal, soundlabs etc. I still like them but I prefer what the mbls and bolzanos do, it's a different presentation. My merlin setup is hard to beat, I doubt I will ever sell them, and I like them discoupled. I believe that decoupling them makes them sound cleaner, I don't want my floor resonating.
By the way these jbls cabinets resonate like crazy(light and thin boxes), they have alot of grunge on top compared to the merlins but that's expected.
I have decided to build my next speakers with help from professionals. Yes I am getting help, my girlfriend says I need it, bless her little soul, someone needs a hug.
Ok. My only contribution will be the cabinet design and the building of it and yes you guessed it right if you were going to ask if leadshot will be in there, but how much, even I don't know. My intention will be to make the cabinet as quiet as possible. And I will decouple them from the room as well. Any suggestions?

Can you describe the room in question?

I suspect Pedrillo is listening in the manner Almarg mentioned earlier. Pedrillo even states he has an optimistic listening bias.

I listen to bad recordings on my high resolution system using the same bias, you can find the good in just about anything if you seek it. He is simply listening in the musical rather than analytical mode.

This attitude is likely a result of diminished expectations as well. I've substituted inferior equipment into my main system a number of times, always somewhat surprised by how good it sounds. Expectation may be the primary driving force in determing how we listen, and largely influences our next move on the audiophile equipment merry-go-round.
Small, 11' X 15', heavily damped on all surfaces: ceiling all four walls, very quiet room.
But I agree that the room is too small!
I may do a trial with the ohms.
You might just need a good but smaller, more compact speaker design in a room that size.

For Ohms, I'd try the Ohm Micro Walsh Talls in a room that size first, I think, particularly if you already have a sub that might be added. Ohm recommends these mainly for more near field listening in a variety of room sizes I believe.

The Ohms are bottom ported though which could work against your desire for isolation. Placing them on concrete slabs or something similar could help. Loosely plugging the ports can be an option as well in more lively rooms that are less isolated naturally.

Both my larger and smaller Ohm Walsh speaks are located in my basement currently on a concrete floor with thin carpeting and padding and this provides an extensive amount of natural acoustic isolation.
Sns, yes I do and prefer things that way.
But I still recognize when things are just awful or not good enough. I must have certain priorities that I don't fully understand.
I'm sure others agree when I say we all have different priorities. That probably is part of our preferences in flavor of sound.
But why do showrooms fall short if that is the case. I remember enjoying most setups untill I brought my system up and got to hear the mbl's, which I should probably revisit.
Pedrillo, I've always noticed your decoupling technique with the Merlins. I believe what you say about decoupling them as I hung a cd player with fish line from the ceiling some years ago, best isolation I ever acheived with a digital source.

Still, don't we voice our systems based on inherent isolation of certain components, ie. my speakers sit on a suspended floor, ie. resonate more than optimum. I then increase the focus on the rest of my equipment through various isolation schemes in order to balance out this greater than optimum resonance in the speakers. In the end I get optimum results from balancing resonances. On the other hand, perhaps not, perhaps you can only fully optimize your system by hanging all equipment in space, ie. optimizing each and every piece. I think I need an anti-gravity listening room :-)

Your reaction to hearing MBL reminds me of my own reaction 30 years ago when I first heard Magnepan compared to box designs.

Some designs are just so unique, for better or worse that they will always stand out in the crowd, either for better or for worse.
Perillo, I suspect you like the MBL's imaging capabilities, much different from our Merlins. When I first went to my Merlins from my previous Alons (2 different models over many years) I was somewhat disappointed, they sounded closed in compared to the Alons. The Alons open baffle on the mids and highs give them a really open sound, larger and less defined images than the Merlins. I took me a while to get used to the Merlins, but now I love the way they image. I suspect I could go back to the Alons and again be very impressed with their imaging.

As for the Merlins, sounds like you're thinking there's something you're missing. Be careful of what you wish for, I have yet to hear a more coherent speaker, this kind of resolution and coherence is very rare. One improvement you may want to try is Duelund VSF in the SBAM. Wow! Read my impressions in my virtual system. I even think I have Bobby convinced to try them.
Thanks for the heads up. I don't plan on moving away from the merlins. I just want to try building speakers, but I figured I should do something that will resemble a speaker that I liked meaning the bolzanos.
I plan on going all atma-sphere just for the sake of getting the merlins to sing their best.
By the way I will consider your bam tweek.