platinum audio vs. soliloquy vs. dunlavy?

Something's got to give. After several years of accumulating gear, the imminent arrival of a baby forces me to clear house...and, naturally enough, I'm deeply conflicted about what to part with. Conundrum #1 is my floorstanding speakers. I have three pair, and need to cut by one. Platinum Audio Studio 3, Soliloquy 5.3 and Dunlavy SCII. I have a 15' x 20' room with high ceilings, hardwood floors and plaster walls, with a large rug, all in all nice and warm sounding with plenty of air for notes to breathe. For amplification, right now I'm using a British made (Grant) 50 watt tube amp and matching pre, but have Acurus solid state stuff I can turn to as well. Source is Rotel CD, but may upgrade in near future, considering Roksan. Cables I lean to mid-tier XLO and Audioquest, have never really been able to discern a difference in sound above that level. Listening tastes vary, but mostly folk and jazz. As for sound, accuracy is key, but if push comes to shove (as it always seems to with this hobby!), I'll take a taste of warmth over the last degree of detail. All that being said, here's my quandry: The Dunlavy's sound best to both my wife and my ears...but the cabinets are big and none too attractive to us. The Soliloquy's come in a very close second in terms of sound, but look much smarter than the Dunlavy's. The Platinum Audio's come in third for sound, but have metal grilles that will protect against the pokings of our baby...toddler to be's...tiny fingers. Makes for a difficult choice. Naturally, I don't expect you to advise me as to which of the aesthetic considerations are most important, but it would make it much easier to weight everything if I was confident that I had the sound quality of the three suspects ranked in the proper order. At all cost, what I don't want to do is sell the best pair if there is one considered demonstrably better than the others. Any thoughts?
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Showing 1 response by tjz

Well, I can't recommend any of the speakers to you, as you know this a a personal choice regarding sound. I've had the similar problem for the last three years, 2 babies and dealing with audio in the room/house. The kids are 2 1/2 and 18 months, just over a year apart. Here's what I have done and found out:

1. Regarding the statement about large/heavy speakers - yes, these CAN be knocked over by your baby/toddler. Don't even think twice about this. It has happened with both of my children. Though heavy, speakers are tall and their center of gravity is high, so it really doesn't take a lot to knock them over. The one solution that has helped is to have them installed on bases/platforms that make the bottom wider, they will still fall, but it takes a bit more effort.

2. The finger jabbing lasts for just a few short months (3-to-9). As indicated by another member, a few redirects of your child (OK several thousand redirects) and eventually they learn not to play with it and become bored. At that point they leave well enough alone but they continue to play all around it - which brings you back to the falling over issue.

3. Not only will your kids be all around these speakers, but eventually so will their younger cousins, friends, neighbors. Your child may learn pretty quickly, but the others will probably have NO IDEA. Further, their parents will probably have not idea the personal value you have on these speakers. And it'll take just one second to happen, and you can not watch them every second, that's been proven already.

4. Speakers on stands MUST GO, they are entirely to unsteady, they will fall over and possibly on a kid (this happened with my 8 year old neice at my daughters first birthday). There is nothing to easily correct this situation and it is an accident that will happen (OK, you can bolt the speaker to the stand and the stand to the floor, but ...).

5. Large ports are an attractive storage space for hiding small toys and other items, yes you too will get to know the internals of your speaker cabinets intimately, your husband/wife may become jealous. If possible, put a screen/chicken wire over the port somehow, it'll save you a lot on the long run.

6. So far, in-wall, in-ceiling, and wall mounted speakers have been great. And isolate a small-to-medium size sub elsewhere.

7. No matter how far away you will place your child and their toys from the speakers, the speakers will get hit and dinged. Who knows how this happens, but it will. Again, it may not even be your child that does it. Toys get thrown, sticks get swung, and cups/bottles dropped and kicked. And out of everything that is in the room, it will be the speakers that get the abuse.

8. Pens, pencils, crayons, and markers, unless you can account for every writing implement in your house all the time, these will be concerns as well.

9. Gates, absolutely, until you get tired of them being in your way all the time. I like the metal, foot operated, doorway gates, they have been consistently the best and least obtrusive. Though at somehwere between 30-32 lbs, any kid who knows how to jump/bounce will figure how to open the gate. As you know, any safety object you install or put up is just a limited deterent, it is not going to stop you child, just slow them down. They are going to figure out how to use it, and probably better than you by just watching and learning from you. And the one time you leave the gate open - their gone faster than you know.

10. I have some used, older towers in our basement playroom from a manufacturer that I like, they already had some minor dings, so I am not worried over any other. I found them on Audiogon. They sound great, they are mounted on a large base, and very difficult to knock over. In our family room, I have the surrounds mounted on the wall, and bookshelfs (in a bookshelf). My nice speakers have been moved to our bedroom and my office where the kids spend little to no time (they like bouncing on the bed too much or playing with my printers).

It's great having music around - and this being a Friday night (as I write this) - we typically turn up the music, pull out the happy juice (virgin colada's - coconut and pineapple juice), and have some fun dancing aqnd singing. The kids are starting to understand what the speakers are about and what they should do or shouldn't do with them. It's been a long 2 years (I didn't have to wory until they started crawling, and I figure in the next year or so, I'll only have to worry about the electronics (OK, who left the volume at full, I just blew out the speakers when I turned on the stereo).

Fortunately, the CD battle is minimal, I have most of my general listening music on an isolated, fanless PC. I have access to the files anywhere in the house. I use a combination of direct connection, Prismiq media receiver, and an FM wireless transmitter. And I can still use the CD for more critical listening when I want. So the bulk of our CD's are stored away in my office but still accessible to my wife and I.

DVD's on the other hand have been a bit more of an issue to manage, and I see a day soon that I'll have to replace at least one or two discs. There does appear to be an advantage with with VHS tapes, they are cheaper to replace.

OK, too much info, but hopefully helps you in deciding what to do, or at least gives you some ideas.