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.


Showing 25 responses by erik_squires


Half a second?? Delay between direct and reflected? That's 550' long! :)  How do you accomplish that? That's no longer going to be a reflection but a distinct echo.

Like duke was suggesting, most think a 10-20 millisecond delay is ideal.

Ime there seems to be a "sweet spot" as far as how loud the reverberant sound is relative to the direct sound. The larger the room (the longer the time delay before the "center of gravity" of the reflections), the louder the reverberant energy can be before clarity suffers.

And the complement to your point is the following, no?

The smaller the room, the softer the reverberant energy should be before clarity suffers

So in a small room, I can't imagine actually wanting to enhance the reverberant amplitude or timing per se. To my ears, the congestion in clarity, especially dialogue suffers too much.

For those who are curious, RT60 is the measure of reverberation time.  It answers "when does the signal decay 60 dB." and can be measured at different frequencies.

So an RT60 of 20 mSeconds at 1 kHz means that a 1 kHz signal will take 20 milliseconds to decay 60 dB.


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.
@Hi tomic601

I'm happy to say that the cabinets for the SNR-1 were made by Lee Taylor and I could not be happier.  Those cabinets do not need mods.  What I need is a great room to put them in. :)


Hi Duke,


Thanks so much for the thoughtful engagement.  I have learned a great deal already.  In a way I think that this will have to remain purely theoretical for me for a while.  It's like lung cancer and trying to figure out which of it's effects on the body will cause you more pain sooner.

I don't see a reasonable model of room treatment where early reflections are not controlled, echoes removed, and reverberation is NOT naturally reduced.  It's rather hard to control one and not the other, like temperature and pressure.

I'll have to defer to those who have experience measuring and treating many more rooms than I will get a chance to.



What do you mean, "again"? You just said you've never heard any in a great room, ever.

Ye who jerketh the knee and speak when not spoken to, repent.

Lament ye pickers of the nits for you may pick all the nits and yet remain hungry for sustenance. Alas, too late thou shalt know the nits will not sustain you.
Hi Neko,

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.



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?? :-)
So if 99.9 % of us will never hear these speakers or see them in a good listening room, maybe Stereophile should stop reviewing them and let a magazine like Oligarchs Monthly.
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.
I really would like a chance to hear the Vandersteen line anew. I'm moving to the opposite coast soon though, and by the end of covid there will probably be something else.
Based on conversations with acousticians, it is much easier to fix the room with acoustic treatments than it is to fix the room AND the loudspeakers at the same time.

I would never argue otherwise.
Therefore in my opinion we want to minimize the early reflections but encourage the late ones.


Well, hmmmmm, I think in the context of what you posted above this makes relative sense, but don't most listening rooms have too long of an RT 60 to begin with, not to mention, it is usually pretty uneven.

So, you mean relative to early, coherent reflections, you'd rather have the energy come at the listener in the reverberant field time, but you are not suggesting the RT60 periods be made longer.

Is that correct?


Hi Duke,

I don't mean to nit pick but you listed this as beneficial:

1. Increased time delay between the first-arrival sound and the onset of the lateral reflections, and a generally increased decay time.

Did you mean the last part?  I thought generally in home rooms we want to decrease the decay time?  Maybe I'm not understanding what ideal is here.

Thanks for the explanation.

Hi Duke,


Sorry, what i meant was, you raised some alternate hypothesis about what I have heard in the past and what the proper attribution is.  Sadly I can neither go back in time, and measure, nor would it be easy to go forward and create a controlled experiment, unless I had a good room sound simulator.



The problem with a room acoustic approach which focuses on RT60 is that it does not target those reflections which are most likely to be detrimental (the early ones), but instead it has a heightened effect on the beneficial later reflections (assuming we’re talking about spectrally-correct reflections).

I’m not that widely read on the subject, but I have never read anyone suggest you should do an either or approach. Maybe if I worked more in the field I’d have a better understanding of the theoretical camps being promoted.

In my mind it was always both. Reduce early reflections, AND control the RT60. Now, here my experience is probably more biased towards motion picture auditoriums, as THX started promoting short RT60 times, so when I read about consumer listening rooms I’m probably assuming the same kind of thinking applies.

What I meant by uneven was having the decay times be different at different frequencies, and of course, eliminating echoes.
Hi Duke,

I can't say I can refute your claim.  To do this I'd have to do controlled experimental testing to find out if the issue I'm having is excess reverb or excess early reflections. 

This is where having a simulation tool would be more useful. :)

I'm sure one could be written, but that's beyond my level of energy right now.


That's why, in my opinion, the preferred starting point is the loudspeaker,

Well, if you want a loudspeaker that is not demanding of both amplifier and the room, this seems to be the logical, if not canonical solution.


Hi noble100
I’m sorry you took my question so dramatically. It was meant to point out a typo which I wanted some clarification on while being humorous. It also shows I actually read the post attentively.

My apologies if it came as too flippant for you.

  Are you really serious about purchasing such a mega-speaker if you heard it in the right environment and loved it ?

No. I ask this question as an audiophile who likes to listen to all sorts of gear for the fun of it.

My point was that for the average audiophile, the ability to experience these speakers, and feel they command the money is rare indeed.  As a result, if we go only by my experience, megaspeakers are almost never worth the money.  
But what if I could hear them in great environments? Would I change my mind?  That's kind of a similar and complementary question. 


Hi @wyoboy

You got me a little curious, and I ran into this description of the Rockport listening room:

A combination of RPG diffusers and B.A.D. panels provide the correct broadband reverberant field without coherent specular reflections, while a series of custom broadband and quarter wave bass traps insure bass linearity down to the first octave. This ultimate soundroom is an essential tool in the development of our high-performance, full range loudspeakers, and in conjuction with some of the industy’s finest associated equipment, enables us to elevate the design process to the highest level possible. In this room, the listener can fully experience the true capabilities of our entire product range.

I have to say they said everything I’ve ever wanted in a listening room. :-) Linearity down to the first octave is a real challenge even for most high end stores, let alone most audiophiles and probably the cause of most disappointments.

The Magico listening room is also an extravagant feat of acoustical engineering, as is the Goodwyn's room in Waltham, MA.


Goodwyn's was relatively nice to me.  Let me listen to some pricey Avalon Acoustics with Spectrum amps.

A little ... snooty about brands.

Haven't been near the area in ages.


Most loudspeakers can perform much better than most owners will ever realize and that's a shame.