My grandfather needs some suggestions for speakers

Hi all,

My grandfather is an amateur audiophile, and is looking to upgrade or replace his current speakers, as he is unhappy with the way they sound. He has a pair of Infinity RS111B's that he loves, but those are in his private office, and don't match the decor of the room(also a little bulky).

Currently, his set up(for music only, not cinema) is:

Onkyo Grand Integra Pre Amp P-308
Onkyo Grand Integra Amp M-508
Onkyo Grand Integra Tuner T-4087
NAD C565BEE CD Player

Speakers: Polk Audio LSi25's

He is looking at purchasing new speakers, but is unsure of what to get, as many of today's up and coming brands he is unfamiliar with. I suggested he post on this site for some suggestions, and he asked if I would.

His budget for new speakers is approx. $2000-$2500 each.

I also suggested that maybe its his amp that needs upgraded/replaced...

Regardless, any suggestions would be appreciated. Currently he is looking on Crutchfield at some Thiel CS1.7's or MartinLogan Theos, or PSB Imagine T2's.

I don't have any experience with higher end audio, so I referred him here.

Thanks for any suggestions in advance. Thought I'd post on here before he traveled a couple hours to some showrooms to test.
Take a look at Salk Songtowers. Or maybe you can find a good used pair of Hales Revelation Three if lucky. He may also enjoy Vandersteen 2CE Signature Edition, all great speakers for the $$. Good luck
It would be helpful if we knew if we knew what it is about his current speakers that he does not like.

Nonetheless, many, if not most, folks on on these sites forget that the speaker/room interaction is probably the single biggest arbiter of overall sound quality. Far too often, folks throw money at replacing equipment when they would be FAR better served by "upgrading" the room.

Until he can state, unequivocally, that his room is as good as it can be for the reproduction of audio, he will be "chasing his tail" forever by making equipment substitutions.

In most cases, spending $500 - $1,000 or so on proper room treatments will result in *greatly* enhanced sound quality. I strongly recommend that you start perusing the various websites that sell such treatments. ATS, GIK, and such specialize in advising on and selling such treatments...

Good luck!


PS: FWIW, Grand Integra is pretty darn good gear, I doubt that the fault lies there.
Room treatment is extremely important. I use Audimute panels & traps with good results. The room is probably the most important part... Aside from the loudspeakers and their placement within the listening space. It helps to have a good reference to start from, and this gentleman wants a good set of loudspeakers first. A pair of ProAC Response 2.5 just came up for sale here on Audiogon and they are within your budget. Another nice sounding pair of speakers...
Also a nice pair of Vandersteen 3a Signature edition on USAudioMart at a good price!
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Another suggestion for you grandfather... I have experience with the Revel Performa F30 loudspeakers, also for sale here on Agon. I enjoyed the sound from these as well and IMO these are hard to beat for the sellers asking price. Have fun with it and best of luck in your search. It's not all that difficult to put together an impressive sounding system. LMK if I can help.
Here is another speaker suggestion for your grandfather... I also have experience with the Revel Performa F30 loudspeakers. There is a pair for sale here on Agon. I enjoyed the sound from these as well, and IMO these are hard to beat for the sellers asking price. Spend the extra $ on room treatment.

Have fun with it and best of luck in your search. It's not all that difficult to put together an impressive sounding system. LMK if I can help further.
I turned 60 2-1/2 weeks ago and am a step-grandfather. I have been an audio enthusiast for 44+ years. After much contemplation and several auditions, I brought home a new pair of Magneplanar 1.7s a couple of weeks ago. I came to realize that I'm really done with 44 years of listening through the noise and artifice of boxy resonances that come with cones 'n' domes unless the speaker enclosures are heroically built after the fashions of Wilson, Magico, Focal Utopia, etc. I like Maggies' ability to sort out all the parts and complexities of large-scale orchestral works and cantatas and oratorios, not to mention their natural and engaging reproduction of small group acoustic music such as jazz and acoustic pop vocals.

I was so taken by them that I finally had to say "decor be damned; I want *these*!" Every time I put on some music is a treat, an escape into a recreation of the musical event that made the recording. It makes me feel more alive and puts a big smile on my face whether I'm sitting in the sweet spot and experiencing a 3D playback of the performance or just doing the dishes in the next room and enjoying the natural timbres and dynamics.

If my budget were $2500 each, I'd get a pair of Maggie 3.7s in a heartbeat.
Good on ya, JohnnyB! It is soooo nice to find speakers that really, ummm, speak to you! I found the same when I got my Gallo Ref. 3.1s. And I, too, will never again put up with the coloration that comes from box speakers...

Waxwaves wrote: " It helps to have a good reference to start from, and this gentleman wants a good set of loudspeakers first."

WW, the Polk speakers are actually pretty good. The point I was trying to make is that no matter how good the speakers, if the room is not "tamed", even the best speakers will not perform to their potential. If he concentrates his efforts there first, better speakers will shine even more brightly...

Yep, it's pretty obvious to most that I understand your point Rlwainwright. The Polk speakers are far from the best and most exiting speakers available in this gentleman's price range. The OP wants some new speakers for Granddad and the Polks may be old news. Maybe you are really just looking for an argument?

I think you should tune your room to your system, after you get the new speakers positioned where you want them Grandad. Might also wanna let them play for a few days first. I agree with Rlwainwright that room treatment is a top concern and should be addressed.

Caution: the Thiel may be too hot on top, IMO. And, not unlike planar speakers, they sometimes require a subwoofer.

BTW, I have spent time with Maggie 3.7! They sound great... in the frequency range that they are capable of playing in! Qualities are the ability to reproduce a lifelike presentation of the tunes with stunning mid-range and amazing dimensionality. BUT, they are lacking in the lower registers for my taste. Just something missing down deep IMO. This is all system dependent of course, but I feel like I got a pretty good helping of what these speakers are capable of. It's all about what you like your music to sound like...

Maybe check out speakers from companies like Vienna Acoustics & Von Schweikert also.
I caught the audio bug when my older brother brought home his first component stereo in 1969. Three years later I did the same. When I became so captivated by the Magnepans that I bought for my 60th birthday, I realized that I was simply done with all the persistently audible artifacts of cones and domes bolted into boxes. Yeah, I know that there are speakers that overcome these obstacles, but all the ones I know of are 5 figures and above in a quest to build a truly resonance-free cabinet, to come up with pistonic tweeters that are fast and don't overshoot (price a diamond or beryllium tweeter lately?).

At Magnepan prices, some bass shyness strikes me as a small sacrifice for all the things they do right:

o Phase coherence (1): All sound emanates from a single flat plane; no cones of various depths, no need to slant or stair-step the baffle

o Phase coherence (2): With cones, the various masses of the cones practically guarantees different rise times for each of the drivers. Maggie drivers are all of the same material with a grid to control the motion. Unfiltered, the Magnepan DWM has a frequency response up to 7Khz. Try finding a standard woofer that has a 40-7Khz frequency range. That's some serious speed that will definitely keep up with the midrange and up into the tweeter range.

o No baffle diffraction: There's no baffle, really, only a frame that floats the voices and instruments in space without baffle bounce.

o Automatic room correction: Something I'd never realized before owning them is that the dipolar radiating pattern is my friend; it produces a near void to the sides, minimizing the influence of sidewall bounce, and even better, it keeps the bass clean when things get loud because the self-canceling nature of the backwave helps keep big room resonances from forming. When Maggies get loud (at least, mine in my room), the bass doesn't excite room modes and swallow the overall sound.

o Scaling up and down: Play a good mini-monitor and you'll be captivated by the intimacy and imaging of soloists and small acoustic ensembles. Play big band and 20th century orchestral and it often sounds like little speakers straining to give you all the notes. Do the same with Maggies and you get that transparent imaging at both ends. There's something about line sources with 400+ sq. inches of radiating area that keeps the busy parts sorted out. It also energizes the listening area more realistically.

o Detail, clarity, *and* uncommon smoothness. Engineers and audiophiles go to great lengths and expense to find a tweeter that is fast and transparent that doesn't set your teeth on edge. Many people on this forum categorically have ruled out any metal dome tweeters. Yet ribbon tweeters often add $700 to the cost of speakers, and diamond and beryllium domes run into 4 figures. Conversely, the Maggie treble is extended, airy, and detailed without beating you over the head with detail, oil-canning resonances, or other glare. I really got my record collection back with these things; there are so many records I had--a capella quartets, string quartets, lead vocals--that had too much upper midrange/treble glare for me to enjoy. The Maggies gave these recordings back to me, but with no sacrifice in treble extension or detail.

o Detail: While we're on the subject, Maggies give you a lot of detail--ambience of the venue, fingers on strings, glottal stops, instrument body resonances, etc. Yet it is always in a musical perspective; the detail serves the musical message rather than overwhelming it.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. As for the bass, the DWM panels are a relative bargain; you can buy as many as you need to properly pressurize a given listening space. And contrary to what some proclaim, there *are* conventional subwoofers that can keep up and add meaningful synchronized bass below the Maggies' lower reaches. A pair of Magnepan 1.7s plus a JL E110 have a total retail price of $3800. You would be *very* hard pressed to find a conventional speaker at that price that combines the bass speed, power and reach of a JL with the transparency and artifact-free presentation of the Magnepans.