I'm never going to hear a megaspeaker in a good room am I?
Was thinking about something. There’s a thread about good $40K speakers which made me think that honestly despite hearing a lot of them at shows, I’ve never heard one in a decent environment. Now, perhaps we can argue:
If it doesn’t sound good anywhere, including a hotel room, is it really that good a speaker?
But let’s not go that route. But I am thinking to myself, in well treated rooms the best speakers I’ve heard were merely mid-range Wilsons and Magicos. I say "merely" because they were under $40k, not because of performance. The two best speakers I’ve heard, in medicore rooms were the SF Stradivari and Snell A/III, and top of the line Vandersteen.
All the $40K + speakers I’ve heard have been at shows, and either very badly treated rooms, or in halls so big the first reflection point was like a mountain echo. Am I ever going to get to listen to $40K+ speakers in great rooms anywhere again??
As a result, I’ve developed a severe bias against the performance of mega speakers, because I only ever hear them in terrible rooms and have not heard one I’d spend money for, and honestly that's unfair to them.
I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless you have such a room and are looking to spend that much to fill it.
I’m an audiophile. This is my hobby. Am I not allowed to want to listen to very expensive speakers even if I’m not buying? How else can I tell these mega buyers they are wasting their money if I don't actually have an informed opinion?? :-)
You can for sure but I still wouldn’t worry about it much unless there is a need. Would you put expensive oversized furniture meant for a grand room in a tiny room? Of course not.
Now what I would do when possible again is get out and listen to live music in the best venues. Then you get an idea of what music can sound like which is useful to help do what is needed to get that as best possible in your room.
If the room is not too big it may not even have to cost all that much. So you should thank your room ASAP for that!
As a result, I’ve developed a severe bias against the performance of mega speakers, because I only ever hear them in terrible rooms and have not heard one I’d spend money for, and honestly that’s unfair to them.
A Show is no place to hear the "Goods" that’s for sure. The last day of some shows if the vendors are paying attention, to the room and the SQ is settling a bit..
LOL it is unfair. But it is what it is... I’ve heard some humdingers, through the years. Construction sites.. Some were just for music rooms..
Aspen, Oakland Hills, Malibu, Lake Tahoe and a few undisclosed locations..
I like it when they still had a 500 sf listening room (top opening, like a missile silo).. and they were adding a 750 sq ft additional HT room or something...With the full blow Wizard of OZ look, HEAVY curtains and plush, seating for 30 or so...Even a Maestro’s pit seating in one set up.. Money, Ay?
SOME had a brand names I recognized. Krell, Mac, Mark L. PS. BUT most of the stuff was handmade, especially the speakers...SOME JBL because they will customise their stuff...Top to Bottom..
@erik_squires what's the price-point where you would consider something a megaspeaker? You could try going to a dealer that has a good room, or contacting the manufacturer directly to ask if they might allow an audition in their room which has a fair chance of being a megaroom to match their megaspeaker, or see if there is an enthusiast who has both a megaspeaker and megaroom who would be willing to have you over.
I do think a poor room (super echoey, noisy environment, etc.) will make even the best speaker (using contemporary technology) sound poor simply because it will be difficult to discern the sound the same way it is difficult to understand what someone is trying to say to you in a poor environment. Indoor sports arenas being used for musical performances is a great example—even if you have Pavaroti or Netrebko singing in a place like that it will sound horrible.
I’m thinking $40K and has to ship in a crate, at least.
Magico does regular auditions for audiophiles in their listening room, which is fantastically, fanatically acoustically treate, but I’m pretty sure I’m banned now... << grin >> And I did hear the S1, but at $12K and a petite 2-way system I didn’t consider it "mega."
I did hear the Vandersteen Sevens, and they are the only mega speaker I’ve ever heard in a hotel room that was any good. In fact, best of show, quite likely to be largely due to the ability to configure the bass like they do. Honestly do not know why this is not an absolutely standard feature of all mega speakers.
I just researched that they are also $45K, so, they are the ONLY mega speaker I’ve heard which sounded great to me.
I guess they do qualify as a Mega speaker. Highly recommended. :)
I did not include them because I mistakenly believed they were $45 WITH the $15K monoblocks.... silly me.
There's not anywhere near as many great audio salons as there used to be. If you want to hear a great sounding speaker in a great room, I suggest you keep some luggage packed for those trips you'll need to make.
Eric, Perhaps one day I will buy speakers in $20k-$40k range. I had Daedalus top range speakers in mind (Zeus), but the only place I can hear them is at the manufacturer's listening room. Nothing wrong with that, since I can get best advice and selection there. On the other hand I bought wonderful speakers from the company (Hyperion) that had no established dealer base and went bankrupt.
Hifi porn for oligarchs and plutocrats seems the direction many good companies are aiming for increasingly. Real estate too, just google "castles for sale" and you will see what I mean. Our hobby is not seemingly immune from the unfolding tragedy we are making of the world. Not that I’m complaining as my lot in life allows me my fair share of porn.
I have listened to systems from $100K to $800K in different and well designed rooms. My biggest take away has been, gee they sound really good but to me it's amazing how little you can spend and get really good, satisfying sound in a well designed system.
Sceana speakers sound pretty spectacular in a suboptimal room. Enough to not notice what powered them. There is that. What's with the desire to hear the best? If you miss it you won't know what you're missing.
I have listened to systems from $100K to $800K in different and well designed rooms. My biggest take away has been, gee they sound really good but to me it’s amazing how little you can spend and get really good, satisfying sound in a well designed system.
I cannot, in good conscience argue against any of that.
Maybe my real answer is I need to go to Germany?? The High End Munich show sure looks tasty, plus the EU in general is doing a better job than the US, in controlling covid, so my chances of going to an open store an sitting for an audition are also higher.
If you wish to hear super-expensive speakers in "the right room," which I assume means set-up properly for demo, it will not be at a hotel room show, as you discovered.
Call the manufacturer, ask them which of their dealers has the best showroom set-up for their speakers, and go there and listen. Unless you live in NYC or SF or some other giant city where they sell enough of the product to warrant a dealer who has the right set-up, you will probably have to travel to a specific city.
I assume you traveled to hear the hotel-room demos. Next time, go to the city where the dealers are big enough to showcase the specific manufacturer's stuff. OR, most manufacturers have their own demo rooms. If you are serious about spending that kind of money, they will be pleased to host you at their facility, I am sure. You will, most likely, hear the item at its best at the factory showroom, right?
Enjoy the music, and remember, the sound in the "perfect" room will NOT be the sound in YOUR room unless you make the appropriate modifications to it.
Erik, when I get my $50,000 speakers I'll invite you over so you can have a listen.:) roberjerman, headphones provide a good datapoint for spectral balance but that is about it. If the system is so bad that you need to resort to headphones you have a lot of work to do and wasting money on headphones is not going to get you there.
I don’t understand why you would want to waste your time listening to $40K plus speakers in a good room if you have no intention of purchasing them. But I actually did attend a private audition, presented by Mr. Diller at a local high end shop, of the $30K Magnepan 30.7 speaker system which consisted of a pair of 7’ midrange/treble panels combined with a pair of some sort of rather large subs. This system sounded spectacular in the shop’s well treated room but I still had no intention of spending that much dough. It sounded so incredibly good, however, that it caused me to try and replicate a mini version of it in my room and system. I already had a very high quality Audio Kinesis Debra 4-sub distributed bass array (DBA) bass system that was flat down to 20 Hz in my room. I then replaced my aging Magnepan 2.7Qr main speakers with a used pair of much newer 3.7i speakers, with the true-ribbon treble section and in like new condition, for about $4K. Voila, a mini Magnepan $30K 30.7 system for a total price of $6,800. The result? The overall sound quality of my custom mini 30.7 system in my well treated room is much closer to the actual 30.7 system’s sq than I ever expected. I would describe both systems as having the typical qualities of upper level Magnepan panels, a fast, smooth, open, natural, highly detailed, palpable and dimensional presentation, along with the added qualities of a very deep and powerful bass foundation combined with powerful full range dynamics, which are not typical Magnepan qualities. I completely understand your desire to experience the overall sq level of a pair of mega-speakers in a high quality room. I would love to experience that, too. If you can’t afford or don’t plan on purchasing them, however, it kind of reminds me of imagining making love to an extremely attractive woman; it’s great while the experience lasts but inevitably just disappointing, and a bit sad, when it’s over and you realize once again that it’s pure fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend both experiences. It’s just that I prefer to be more practical, constructive and realistic with both the women and audio systems I choose to spend time with. Your world’s what you make it, go ahead and take it.
Erik, I think @mijostyn has expressed the solution for your listening challenge. Send out an open request to Audiogon readers who own a system that fits the $40k speaker criterion and politely ask to audition their systems. In return, you promise to ingratiate yourself to your host(s), tell witty stories, proffer them with wine, scotch, bourbon, homemade hummus with Moroccan dried olives, an LP they have always wanted (fill in the blank), and generally resolve be a most excellent guest. Once Covid is in the rear view mirror, let said system owners know where you will be travelling and arrange the visit. If you cannot find any takers, I have some $4k Dalis in a big unfinished basement in NC: bring me some good bourbon, and you can hear them! Cheers!
The three speakers Erik identifies as having sounded good in "mediocre" rooms are all speakers which have relatively smooth off-axis response as well as other characteristics which generally result in good in-room response: The Vandersteen Model 7, the Sonus Faber Stradivari, and the magnificent Snell Acoustics Type A. In other words, these are not three random speakers that Erik’s ears picked out - they are three speakers which start out doing some important things right when it comes to room interaction.
If placed in a larger and more theoretically ideal room, the main beneficial differences would be:
1. Increased time delay between the first-arrival sound and the onset of the lateral reflections, and a generally increased decay time. This results in less degradation from early reflections as well as less "small room signarture", so we hear more of the acoustic signature on the recording, and less of the playback room.
2. The bass would be smoother because the larger room would result in greater modal density, which results in more numerous and smaller (and therefore less audible) room-interaction peaks and dips.
Wouldn’t it be nice if these attributes could be grafted into our typical smaller room? How would we go about doing so?
1. Let’s take the fairly wide and uniform radiation pattern of the speakers Erik likes, and chop it in half. Let’s aim half of the energy (now in a considerably narrower pattern) at the listening area, and aim the other half well away from the listening area, such that it bounces off the room boundaries a time or two before arriving. This does two things: It reduces the amount of energy in the earliest (most likely to be detrimental) reflections, and also pushes the "center of gravity" of the reflections back in time, approximating what would happen in a larger room.
2. Various techniques for improving the in-room performance in the bass region exist, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Room interaction matters a lot to me so I am commercially involved with speakers which have these sorts of attributes. The ones which would qualify as "megaspeakers" (using the $40k yardstick) are SoundLab fullrange electrostats.
Anyway I do not subscribe to the school of thought which says that it’s up to the homebuyer to own a megaroom and up to the acousticians to make the megaroom work for the megaspeakers. In my opinion good room interaction starts at the loudspeakers design stage, whether those speakers be "mega" or otherwise. Kudos to Richard Vandersteen, Franco Serblin, and Peter Snell for paying attention to room interaction.
Duke will be familiar with these. I have a pair of what I'd classify as megaspeakers, although not high tech. I bought these 20 years ago, (in storage) because of this crazy world circumstances (blah blah) I've been looking for a sizable room to move to. JBL 4676a two-way (4550 bottom cab) fully original top condition. I have Wavelength Cardinal XS (300B) and Wavelength 45 Silver amps. Recently got Marchand 2-way (tube, ext PS) crossover. I am very interested in any comments, ideas or feedback, etc.
I will never hear a great system in a great environment. Never. Nor do I want to, really! Because I will Never, Ever HAVE that great system in my little apartment environment. There will be Excuses. Compromises. Deal with. Limited Dollars. Thus Never Ever be satisfied with what I have. Ignorance IS bliss.
Hello, Paul of PSAudio set up the room for the $50,000 Infinity speakers. Plus he is developing some of their own stuff. They have a pair of bookshelf speakers that play down to 30hz. I am not sure if they are doing listening sessions right now, but they do have what your asking.