Help with a system for a guy into electronic music

Hey guys, I've been reading some different threads on here, and it's been really helpful, but I just wanted to get a little advice. I'm a big electronic music guy, love trance, progressive house, progressive breaks, cinematic breaks, some dub. I've been doing some research, testing things out and I've come up with this package:

1. Dynaudio Focus 160
2. Simaudio Moon 340i w/DAC, XLR & Phono
3. 2 x JL Audio f113's.

The system will be going in my living room, up against a drywall. The ceilings are 10ft, and concrete. The dimensions of the room are 18x21. Unfortunatley the living room is on the corner of the building, which means two of the walls are all windows (8ft windows)--trying to find thick curtains to help with this.

Do you think this package will work will? Would you recommend I try something different?
Good selection of components starting with the Simaudio 340i and Dynaudio 160.

Colonel your system is well thought out however, think about dropping down to smaller sub (10s or 12s if using two or one 13 sub) and investing in room treatments and excellent cables.

Details help bring the system together. Those small details can be made with better cables and room treatments.

Like Dynaudio 160 but there is no shortage of tough rivals. Check these brands out:

Focal 1008 Be
Harbeth 7ES-3
Totem Acoustic Mani-2 Signature
Lapierre, thanks for the input. One question though, from my days on Head-Fi, I thought the whole "expensive" cable thing was debunked--the cheap ones are just as good as the $3000 ones.
Mani-2 is very good choice mentioned!

every third post here is about believers and non-believers for spending high dollar for wires or not...

in reality it's not the price you're paying for the wire, but rather matching wire parameters to your equipment. if you unsure how to match parameters or don't know jota about electronics, it's also not a big deal because the differences are so minimal.

wires that somehow 'improve' the sound simply add coloration with excessive reactive parameters that make philes believe that WIRES MATTER.

the safest way to achieve a reference wire performance is to purchase recording studio standard wires.
Given the type of music you listen to, have you considered going with pro gear? That kind of music is meant to be played in a club environment. I know its an odd recommendation, but I feel that may be the right choice for you.
Zd542, forgive my ignorance, but what is pro gear? Are we talking Funktion 1?

I know my type of music isn't some type of popular audiophile music, but some of it is really magnificently produced. Sounds great on my 16's.
Modern electronic it dub, trip hop, house, etc is often immaculately produced...they often use lots of echoe, panning techniques, a speaker with speed that images well would be my vote...others will chime in about bass...but I would relegate that to dedicated sub for your musical tastes...the extra frequency range and placement options would be short...a sub/ standmount system comes to mind...a floorstander with at least 8 in drivers if u can't do a sub...
Ignore that dumb response telling you buy pro gear. Hell I listen to tons of electronic music too, like that's a crime on here? No you should just listen to the same Patricia Barber track over and over again lol. I think the gear you picked looks great. Dynaudio and Sim Audio match very well and Dynaudio is a real music lover's speaker very easy to set up and just enjoy music on and they won't bite your head off if the recording isn't perfect. Good luck it should sound great.
Coloneltushfinger, I have a room half the size of yours and the Dynaudio Focus 160 didn't work for electronic music as the bass was a bit slow, too big and swollen with any amp I tried. I have heard the speakers in bigger rooms and they were amazing, even with tube amps! I've tried most genres, electronic music aswell and that requires a lot of power from the amp! If you can, make sure to try the combo in your room. I have never had any thoughts about using a sub to these speakers, no way, they play very deep by themselves! Unless you are a big deep bass fan of course.
For electronic music, I would also try another danish speaker brand: System Audio. The sound is just a rich and full as Dynaudio but much "quicker" in the bass. The new System Audio Mantra 50 floorstander is probably a very good choice. I have heard the Mantra 60 and compared it side by side with Dynaudio Focus 160, in two different rooms, and it is actually better in every aspect as long as you don't have a very small room. Both speakers are great though!
Not sure I'd spend over twice as much on subs as on the main speakers. Given that total price you could get something like a PMC OB1i and a pair of SVS SB13 Ultras. I'd think the SVS subs would be more than enough to handle the bass you'll be throwing at them, and the PMCs will likely offer better dynamics from the upper bass on up than the Dynaudio monitors that could serve this music well. For this kind of music as another alternative you could also consider taking a look at ATC speakers. If at all possible it would be worth a trip to go hear PMC and/or ATC speakers with your music. Hope this helps, and best of luck in your search.
I love EDM and used to dj house music a few years back. I think Zus really work well for this genre- and Sean Casey loves EDM as well. Deepsky, the producer, even masters with them.

I was listening to Tycho/Thievery Corp this morning as a matter of fact.
I'm a big fan of electronic music from way back. I bought Tangerine Dream's Pheadra LP within a week of when it came out.

I've followed the ambient music scene ever since. Infinity Project , Global Communications, Transient Waves, Massive Attack, Juno Reactor, etc. I guess I like the dreamy stuff, but with lots of bass impact in the recording. Many of them I find to be demonstration quality and I often play them (all are on LP BTW) at shows.

I use tube amps and easy to drive speakers. I find it much easier to get the system to play bass and I can reach higher volumes without pain. At home I have Classic Audio Loudspeakers (model t-3.2) but I am a big fan of the Audiokinesis speakers, which pack a huge bang for the buck. Speakers like these allow me to get by with a 60 watt/channel amp without fear of clipping, they can shake the building and have tons of resoltion. The tube amps I use have direct-coupled outputs so they have full power to 2Hz. They can play bass like nothing else.

Did you know they can put a 10Hz signal on an LP? One reason I play analog because the bass is better :)
Egoben, fastness is really important, but I'd rather let the subs deal with that rather than the speakers.
Egoben, also, I can't seem to find anyone in Chicago with System Audio Mantra's :(
That's a pretty big room. Plus, if you try and tame the acoustics, you may need more wattage into the Dynaudio's than the Simaudio can provide. Accordingly, I would look into either a more powerful amp or more effecient speakers. The Focus 160 is rated at 86dB efficiency. With the Simaudio amp, you get 100 watts/channel @ 8 ohms. If you like to crank it, even with the subs, there are serious power demands on your amp in the lower mids and mids. In speakers, I'd look for something with an efficiency rating of at least 90dB. If you want more power, I'd look for at least 200 watts per channel. Your options are extensive. One idea: The new Peachtree X-1 integrated with a built in DAC. An example of an efficient speaker in your price range, although a tower, not a stand-mount, the Golden Ear Triton 2 (91 dB efficiency). For $3K, that's what I would buy if I needed efficient speakers for electronic music.
Just checking in too see if we are answering your questions correctly.
Lapierre, you guys are being awesome. Now it's a matter of sniffing around and finding some these pieces to demo.
Another Chicagoan? All right.

I think that you will want to figure how how forward or laid back you want your speaker to be. A more forward speaker can be a bit fatiguing, but also pretty exciting. Zu for example would be a forward speaker. Klipsches would be another example.

My Von Schwiekert VR-4s would be an example of a more laid back speaker. Still great detail, but a different presentation.
EDM as in Armin van Buuren, Dash Berlin, Above and Beyond, Markus Schultz, etc or some old school chill out music? It's a big difference.

One thing that often overlook is mid-bass. Modern edm require very good mid-bass reproduction more than the deep bass (unless you're into dub-step). My recommendation is, especially with your room, getting a floorstander that can produce big scale music. Only adding subs if you think you need deep bass. For 2-ch music, many would recommend you dailing in subs as your extension to the mains, not overlapping (regardless of floorstander or standmount) which I think is the correct way.

Also if you can audition, try Be tweeter with trance music. It's as if it's made for trance.
I previously owned Dynaudio Focus 140's and a JL Audio F113. I think both of these are a good choice for electronic music. The Dynaudio 140's were surprisingly capable in the bass, and could play loud while remaining composed. The JL F113 is a great sub, as many owners have reported. It's fast, powerful, and musical.

Something to think about... If you're going to get two subs, you might also consider the F110. It doesn't play quite as low or quite as loud, but it is faster than the F113, and considerably cheaper. I currently own a single F110, and I don't particularly miss my F113, even when listening to electronic music. And my room is roughly the size of yours. Either way, you will be happy with the JL Audio subs.

And FWIW, I don't think the suggestion of pro gear is a bad one. As a generalization, active speakers produce very dynamic bass, and several consumer audio companies, like Dynaudio, manufacture active speakers for pro applications. But there is no reason they couldn't be used in a home environment, and given the kind of music you listen to, it is worth considering.

Good luck.

So you are going to spend $3000 on pair of Dynaudio 160's and $3850 X 2 on a pair of JL Audio F113 subs for a total of $10,700 dollars?
Not saying that is a bad decision, might actually work really well, but I am just thinking of all the stand alone speakers you could buy for that kind of money and then maybe add a sub or two later on. I am into some of the same music you are and I heard Dynaudio X32's with VTL electronics, tubes, and it sounded awesome.
I like electronica, too, and totally agree with the idea of getting at least one sub - I don't think there's any question of how important sub-bass is for EDM/IDM!

Honestly also not sure about the benefits of two subs, though, as those funds can be put into better main speakers or room treatments for more immediate benefit. You can always get another F113 down the road.

At the end of the day, you HAVE to go listen to things to find the right system. Demos are absolutely a must.

Another tip is to widen the source/amp combo shortlist. I agree you want gear that has tight bass and mid-bass with refined treble (not all modern dance recordings are that good). In terms of electronics, I'd throw these into the mix: Bel Canto, the Chord Chordette QuteHD DAC, even Naim gear and perhaps the NAD M2 integrated.

Dynaudio is a great choice, but high SPL is a concern for most 2-way standmounts. I might add PMC and ATC to your speaker list. ATCs can play SUPER-LOUD, though not everyone likes the accurate, unromantic presentation.

On cables, well, it's definitely the worst investment one can make sound for pound, but in my experience, it is annoying but true that they can make a difference. Specific gear and room acoustics are variables to how much.

I'd start off with basic cabling for power, interconnects and speaker, then buy/flip more exotic things used, or try out cables from places that offer money back trials, and/or use the Lending Library from The Cable Company at different price points.

In my system, I really like the Canare cables I got from Blue Jeans (preferred these to Mogami and Belden). Good luck!
Oh, my last add on some hefty floorstanders, I've not heard these but the new Revel F208s look tasty! 3-ways with 2x8" woofers, brutish looking cabinets; you won't need stands and could have mains that give a more fullrange sound.
Kzhtoo: both. Depends on the mood. Some days is all Jon Hopkins, some days is all a&b. what exactly is the be tweeter? Beryllium tweeter?
Bryon, are there specifically any active speakers you think I should check out?
Yes, I meant Beryllium tweeter. A&B is one of my favorites as well. Check out the below link. It's not A&B but if you're an edm fan, you'll love it. A&B also performed on the same stage on the same weekend, but youtube somehow removed their video :(
Colonel - I am by no means an expert on active speakers, but 4 that come to mind are...

-- Dynaudio, like these.
-- Focal, like these.
-- ATC, like these.
-- PMC, like these.

It will be quite a challenge to audition all of those, but if you could listen to one or two, you might get an idea of what active speakers have to offer. Though keep in mind that active speakers do not all sound alike, any more than passive ones do, so the speakers above will have unique presentations. Hope that helps. Maybe someone who has more experience with active speakers will make a suggestion.

And, FWIW, I think you can get to where you want to be with either the active or passive approach, provided you have very good bass in all three of the following...

1. frequency response
2. transient response
3. headroom

It is in #3, headroom, that active speakers often have an advantage over passive speakers. But, IMO, all three of the above are essential to excellent bass, and excellent bass is essential to a satisfying experience listening to electronic music. On the topic of optimizing both frequency response and transient response, you may find this thread interesting.

Oh, and... if you do go the sub route, prepare yourself for a potentially VERY long setup process. It can take as long as a day for an initial setup, and literally months of occasional tinkering to get everything dialed in.

Imo the bass extension of the Dynaudio Focus 160 is totally unnecessary if you're using a pair of ubersubs, and you're trading off valuable efficiency to get that unnecessary bass extension. The Focus 160 is rated at 86 dB "sensitivity", and that word usually implies "2.83 volts" rather than "1 watt". You see, 2.83 volts into 4 ohms (the Focus 160's rated impedance) = 2 watts, so the Focus 160 is probably only 83 dB/1 watt efficient.

In general, high efficiency = better dynamic contrast, and imo effortless dynamic constrast plays an important role in electronica (other types of music too, of course). Musicians use dynamic constrast to convey feeling, emotion. I suggest you look into main speakers that are up around 90 dB or more efficient (and remember to convert 4-ohm speakers back to watts if they're specifying 2.83 volt sensitivity), and don't worry if they don't go down very deep. Your pair of subs will have that covered.

Now here's an argument for using specialty tube amps: One of the things that robs music of its dynamic contrast is thermal compression, caused by voice coil heating. As the voice coil heats up, its resistance rises. Solid state amps put out reduced power into a higher impedance load, but many tube amps (and in particular SET and OTL amps) put out essentially the same power whether the voice coil is hot or cool. So, such tube amps do a better job of preserving the dynamic contrast when the speakers are being pushed hard.

Both of my sons compose electonica, and here's a link to one of their collaborations (honoring Amelia Earhart, check out tracks 1, 2, and 13):

And here's one of them solo:

Check Event Opal often sold at pro audio major retailers.
Very solid high def performers and extremely neutral and natural sounding.
I think Duke makes an excellent point about the value of high efficiency speakers for creating dynamic contrast. It is a point I overlooked in my previous posts.

IME, high efficiency speakers often have the same kind of headroom that I associate with active speakers. So it is a good suggestion, IMO.

So Bryon & Duke, what speakers would you recommend I check out that are 90dB efficient or more? I'm going to say no to Active speakers just because no one seems to have any to demo.
"...what speakers would you recommend I check out that are 90dB efficient or more? I'm going to say no to Active speakers just because no one seems to have any to demo."

I take it that your quest doesn't include speakers that you can't demo, and that is certainly reasonable.

Must confess I'm not up on all that's out there in the $3k ballpark in high efficiency land, with a decent possibililty of being available for local audition (assuming you're not too far from a major metropolitan area). Coincident, Zu, and Klipsch come to mind... dangit, I'm sure there are others. You might have to call up the dealerships within driving distance, tell 'em what you're looking for, and see what they have to say. Most of the high efficiency manufacturers I'm aware of sell direct.

A note about "fullrange driver" speakers, which tend to be high efficiency but with relatively low power handling. In my experience, their clarity is degraded on loud, complex, bass-heavy music. I say this as a manufacturer whose first commercial loudspeaker was based on fullrange drivers (augmented with a built-in powered sub and a supertweeer), and can pass along my thoughts as to why this is so if you'd like.

Imo it might make sense to consider a redistribution of your expenditures between mains and sub so that you don't have one becoming the limiting factor long before the other. At their rated 200 watt input, the Dynaudios can do a calculated 106 dB (real world it will be a bit less due to thermal compression). The JL Audio F113 is rated at 120 dB at 50 Hz, so theoretically you're paying for an extra 14 dB beyond the point where the Dynaudios reach their thermal limits... and in practice the discrepancy is probably more than that, because the subs will be getting a lot more boundary reinforcement than the mains. Not that you're necessarily going to be playing at 112 dB or so, but the ability to cleanly hit high SPLs means that your system will sound a lot more lively and dynamic at lower levels.

Thanks duke, I just wish I understood all the math & logic behind this stuff.
"...just wish I understood all the math & logic behind this stuff."

Sorry for laying down a math smokescreen!

Let's walk through an example: The Coincident Super Triumph speaker (and for those who know their way around specs and marketing departments, I'll be making some simplifying assumptions along the way). Here's the webpage:

The relevant specs are:

- 3 dB @ 45 Hz
- 8 ohms
- 94 dB @ 1 meter with 1 watt
- 300 watts maximum power
- 16" x 9" x 12.5" enclosure (from which I estimate .70 cubic feet internal volume)

I'm going to make a semi-educated guess and assume this speaker's RMS power handling is about 100 watts, but it can handle 300 watt peaks. So I'm going to make my projections based on 100 watts RMS.

Okay first question is, how loud will these speakers go with the 340i's 100 watts? We get a 3 dB increase in SPL for each doubling of power, and a 10-fold increase in SPL for each 10-fold increase in power. So if we start out with 94 dB from 1 watt, we can expect a 10-fold increase going from there to 10 watts, and another 10-fold increase going from 10 watts to 100 watts. So 94 + 10 + 10 = 114 dB! That is very loud.

By contrast, let's look back at the Dynaudio Focus 160. I am assuming its efficiency to be 83 dB / 1 watt, but the 340i puts out 200 watts into its 4 ohm load, so we get 83 + 10 + 10 + 3 dB, = 106 dB. This is still quite loud, but on paper at least, this speaker falls well short of the Coincident in SPL capability.

Now I'm going to muddy the waters a bit. I do not believe Coincident's claim of -3 dB at 45 Hz from a 94 dB efficient, .70 cubic foot box UNLESS the speaker is assumed to get generous reinforcement from room reflections, particularly in the bass region. I don't expect this to be obvious to anyone who hasn't dug into the math side a bit, but in this case I don't think my misgivings about the yardstick used have much bearing on whether or not this speaker would be a better match SPL-wise with a pair of high-output subs. You see, we really don't care whether the speaker gets down anywhere near 45 Hz, because you'll have two powerful subs to cover the low end. And even if the broadband efficiency spec assumes a 3 dB contribution from room reflections, we're still in much better shape as far as dynamic headroom goes.

Why does all this matter, if you're not going to listen at 106 dB, let alone 114 dB?? Well, you might be listening at 90 dB average SPL, and along comes a 20 dB peak (not at all uncommon). That would be 110 dB. If you want your system to convey the feeling the artist intended, then you want it to deliver that full 20 dB peak, or at least come as close as possible. (Note to the old timers: Yes, I've left out the effects of thermal compression for the sake of clarity; in my own home audio systems, I shoot for another 10 dB of power-handling headroom on top of the anticipated max peak SPL to mitigate the effects of thermal compression.)

The logic involved, which is the driving force behind doing the math, is this: It doesn't make sense to pay a premium for capabilities that you cannot use. Like, you'll never come close to using the capabilities of a pair of F113 subs when your main speaker became the limiting factor 14 dB before your subs!

Now the MOST IMPORTANT question has been left out of all of this, because it is unanswerable on an internet forum: How do you like the sound?? You may prefer the sound of the Dynaudios over the Coincidents by a wide enough margin that the max SPL difference doesn't matter... but if your preference is based on the Dynaudio having better low end, remember that your subs will be providing the low end, and will leave any small stand-mount speaker in the dust. While I'm one of those little guys who sells direct (as are most of the high efficiency manufacturers I'm aware of), I certainly understand and approve of your desire to only consider speakers you can audition.

I hope some of that was helpful.

Regarding high efficiency speakers, although it dates back three years, and addresses a wide range of price points, you may find this three-page thread to be well worth reading.

Regarding auditions, keep in mind that manufacturers who sell direct may be able to put you in contact with an owner in your area who would be willing to provide a demo. That may be particularly relevant because you are in a major metropolitan area. Also, some of them provide return privileges, although that can generally be expected to be minus two-way shipping costs and some restocking fee.

Good luck in your search. Regards,
-- Al
Pretty sure it has been mentioned above, but with subwoofers intergration with your mains can be difficult. This is more tricky in some set-ups than others (planars + subs, for example). But the trick is to get a seamless handoff to the sub. Just like between the drivers of mains, the handoff is an area that requires great skill. Only with subs, you are getting drivers not chosen by the designers of your mains in most cases. So search out subs that can integrate nicely. The RELs have a good reputation for this using their speaker-level inputs. And there are a number of subs with DSP capabilities, that might be great choices. Or there are outboard DSP devices (either full-range or designed for subs only) that can also help with the handoff (and mitigate things like room effects to boot).

You are getting a lot of great advice here. You should feel lucky to have Al and Duke (Audiokinesis) on the job.
I'm into the electronica scene here in San Francisco and we have clubs here with amazing sound systems: Check out the system at the club Monarch for an example. My point is I know how electronica sounds on these world class systems. I have Zu Definitions and have also had Tekton Pendragons. They both do electronica very well. I think going with High Efficency speakers will bring you great dynamics as was wisely posted above.

If you do decide to use subs, go Servo.

If you really love the bass line in electronica then GR Research Super V's at 96dB are amazing.
Thanks for taking the time to post here.Your contribution is both educational and accurate regarding the advantages of higher efficiency speakers if better dynamic contrast and realism is the goal.My personal experiences support all that you have written. I hope the OP appreciates this perspective you've provided.

What would your argument against the F113's be? I'm just curious.
I have no argument against the F113's at all. My friend who has the Super V's had them prior to his upgrade. However, I did not hear them so I should reserve comment.
I have a tangential question for everyone: I have become a habitual user of the Dynamic Range Database and notice that a lot of EDM albums are super compressed. Why is that and should that give one pause when considering purchasing the music?
EDM is compressed because it will play louder. It's a little counter intuitive. Same with recent Stones, Dylan, whatever, compressed like all get out.
I'm not interested in louder. I'm interested in dynamics. Why compress the music when you can turn up the volume yourself?
WHY? So you get a punchy sound on car radio that keeps you on that station.
revel speakers are where its at. The subs you have chosen are great, but the Revels are going to be able to play louder with less strain than the Dynaudios.
WHY? So you get a punchy sound on car radio that keeps you on that station.

Yeah, I get that. But I'd like to hear well recorded EDM if possible. Any recommendations from the readership?
I'm into more downtempo stuff myself- Global Communications, Infinity Project, Symbiosis, Yello (although a lot of their stuff is quite danceable), Future Sound of London...